Tera Blanco almost landed a big one Monday.
The Marina freshman flirted with a no-hitter against Kennedy on the eve of her 15th birthday. She was two outs away from her first high school no-no but was denied when Mariah Ramirez broke up the attempt 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 improved to 6-1. "I felt confident today and was ready to go."
Through 6 1/3 innings, Blanco had given up just one walk and an early Marina error led to Kennedy's only other base runner. 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.
"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 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 at the Faster to First Tournament, Luth said.
"Sandy's amazing," she said. "She is really ripping the ball."
The Sunset League race begins at 3:15 p.m. Friday and sends Marina to Huntington Beach. Luth sees a tough league road ahead for everyone.
"The league looks unbelievable," she said. "Everyone is playing well and it won't be easy for anyone."