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Blanco blanks Kennedy in gem

Marina High softball pitcher is two outs away from a no-hitter, leading Vikings to impressive victory.

March 30, 2011|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com
  • Marina's Nicolette Lujan makes a throw to first base during a nonleague game against Kennedy at Marina High School on Monday.
Marina's Nicolette Lujan makes a throw to first… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Tera Blanco almost landed a landmark triumph Monday.

The Marina freshman flirted with a no-hitter against Kennedy on the eve of her 15th birthday. She was two outs away from recording the feat but was denied when Mariah Ramirez broke up the bid with a one-out single in the top of the seventh. Although the no-hitter escaped her, Blanco tamed the visiting Fighting Irish and the Vikings scored a 5-0 victory.

"It was an off-speed pitch that I just hung up there," said Blanco, who did record her second one-hitter in improving to 6-1 and also contributed a single to the Marina offense. "I felt confident today and was ready to go."

Throughout the game, Blanco was in control, although an early walk, plus an error by the Marina defense, led to Kennedy's only other base runner and took away any shot of a perfect game. Ramirez, who is heading to the University of Utah, dropped in a one-hop single into right field to break up the no-hitter. Blanco recovered to strike out both Becky Poirier and Lauren Lovato to close the game.

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"She's good," Marina Coach Shelly Luth said. "She's just 14 but so poised for her age. She threw a real nice game today."

Marina, which improved to 6-1-1, took control of the game by scoring all of its five runs in the bottom of the second. Freshman Lily Dudrey started the rally with a leadoff walk. Senior Chloe Kaneko followed with a double to right field that sent Dudrey to third. One out later, junior Amanda Cordeiro delivered a sharp single into right field to score both Dudrey and Kaneko.

Designated hitter Alexa Barrett then got into the act. The sophomore's single up the middle brought in Cordeiro to make it 3-0. With two out, Marina leadoff hitter Sandy Simmons hit to deep left-center field to drive in Barrett. Simmons scored when senior Nicolette Lujan roped a single to right field.

The five-run cushion proved to be more than enough. From there, the Vikings rode Blanco's arm the rest of the way.

"I thought we played well, but we're still trying to find some consistency," Luth said. "We have 16 talented players who just need to play together. We have five freshmen who are working hard and our veterans are teaching those freshman. It's just a matter of putting it all together out there."

Simmons, one of those veterans, went two for four with two stolen bases, continuing her torrid form from a weekend performance that saw the junior first baseman go six for seven in two games at the Faster to First Tournament, Luth said.

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