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.
"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.
"Sandy's amazing," she said. "She is really ripping the ball."
The Sunset League race begins Friday (3:15 p.m.) and sends Marina to Huntington Beach. Luth sees a tough league road ahead for everyone.
"The league looks unbelievable," she said. "Edison is having a great season, Fountain Valley has a new coach and is doing well and Huntington is very solid. It won't be easy for anyone."
In other local softball action
Ocean View: The Seahawks on Saturday scored a pair of victories, beating both Cathedral Catholic and Capo Valley.
In a 7-4 victory over Cathedral Catholic, Brittany Hitchcock pitched a complete game victory with nine strikeouts. Ty Yana Albert hit a deciding, three-run home run in the fifth inning to cap what Coach Mike McLaughlan said was a "complete team effort from top to bottom."
Ocean View also crushed Capo valley, 9-1. Erika Jason had four hits, Celine Fuentes three hits and Tobi Salzman had a double and home run to power the Seahawks offense. Fuentes also went the distance and struck out nine while allowing just three hits.
In a nonleague game March 23, Ocean View blanked Newport Harbor, 1-0. Fuentes and Vanessa Cardoza hit back-to-back doubles in the first inning to produce what turned out to be the only run of the game. Hitchcock pitched a complete game shut-out.
Edison: The Chargers ran their Sunset League record to 3-0 with victories in its last two games against Huntington Beach and Newport Harbor.
On March 23, Edison rode senior Henry Owens' one-hit, 10 strikeout effort and home runs by senior Eric Snyder and sophomore Tyler Jones to a 2-0 victory over visiting Huntington Beach. On Friday, the Chargers scored a 9-3 home win over Newport Harbor (0-2-1). Senior Dalton Douty (1-0) recorded his first win of the season and senior Jon Torres got the save.
Fountain Valley: The Barons rallied to pick up their first Sunset League win Friday, scoring the tying run on an error in the top of the seventh inning, then scored eight runs in the top of the ninth, to take a 11-3 victory from Huntington Beach. Turner Clouse hit a solo home run in the top of the eight to put the Barons (1-2) in front, 3-2, and junior Matt Gasparro belted a grand slam and senior Dan Jimenez and junior Christian Rodriguez both doubled during the eight-run ninth. Clouse and Gasparro also doubled.
Huntington Beach: The Oilers took a 2-0 lead on Fountain Valley, but ended up dropping an 11-3, nine-inning game to the visiting Barons. Huntington (1-2 in league) fell behind, 3-2, after 7 1/2 innings but loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the eight yet could bring home only the tying run.
"In order to be a great team, you have to be able to finish," Huntington Coach Benji Medure said. "We didn't do that and they took advantage. We choked."
Marina: The Vikings improved their Sunset League mark to 2-0 on March 23 by blanking Fountain Valley, 3-0, in a game called after six innings. Trevor Megill threw all six innings, struck out six and didn't allow a walk for Marina which had its Friday league game against Los Alamitos rained out.
Ocean View: The Seahawks dropped a 2-1 Golden West League game Monday to visiting Westminster and fell, 3-0, March 23 to Loara. Alex Knowles (1-2) took the loss and Luke Fell had Ocean View's lone hit in the loss to Loara.