Singapore's softball hopes over after losing to Japan and Philippines
Singapore's quest to qualify for their first Men's Softball World Championships - the sport's equivalent of the World Cup - ended in agony yesterday.
The Republic came up short on the third day of the 14th Asian Men's Championship Qualifier 2015 - the continent's qualification tournament for the World Championships - as they lost both their games at the Kallang Softball Diamond.
In their first match, Singapore lost 0-9 to Japan, who had routed Indonesia 15-1 and the Philippines 15-0 on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
The softball boys then took on the Philippines in the second match, in what was a battle for third place, which is the last qualifying berth for the World Championships.
The game started well for Singapore as they limited the Philippines to only two runs in three innings.
But the Republic's offence fell flat as they were held scoreless for a good six innings, by which time they were down 0-5 through several fielding mistakes.
The hosts managed to pull back two runs through second batter Dominic Han and third batter Jerel Tan, but a comeback was not to be as the Philippines ran out 5-2 winners.
The result meant that Singapore finished fourth out of six teams, with Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines taking up the first three spots, while the bottom two teams Brunei and Pakistan made up the numbers.
Despite coming up short, this is the closest that the Republic have come to qualifying for the World Championships, and national coach John Tan is confident that the team are on the right track, especially with next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in mind.
"In softball, the pitching department is vital. To date, our pitchers are at a very good level. The players are also very young, with an average age of 24, so we can only get better," he said.
"For the 2015 SEA Games, we have set a target of reaching the final, and that will be monumental for us because Singapore have never reached that stage.
"I really think that we have the depth and ability to reach that target."