Blanco notches no-hitter in win over Eastern Michigan
For anyone that knows Tera Blanco, it’s not surprising that the senior right-hander’s walk-up song is “God’s Plan” by Drake. Blanco always listens to the song to pump herself up and got her teammates to play the Canadian rapper’s music in the locker room.
When Blanco threw the first no-hitter of her college career in a 4-0 win against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday afternoon, the constant blaring of the hit single was, in a way, poetic. Every time the No. 17 Michigan softball team left a runner stranded on base, Blanco came in the next inning and answered the prayers of the Wolverines, either with one of her 12 strikeouts or a laser to catch a runner at first base.
“We weren’t a real inspired group today, and Tera has just been such a steady force for us all year,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “I’m proud of her, she’s so deserving.”
That’s not to say that the right-hander’s ride to the no-hitter was smooth by any means. On the first pitch of the second inning, Eagles' outfielder Brandice Olmos launched a shot to deep center that threatened to end Blanco’s bid before it was even conceivable.
Junior outfielder Natalie Peters, however, had other plans. As the ball sailed straight over Blanco’s head, Peters started running from right field and didn’t stop until the ball was in her glove, making a twirling catch.
In other moments when Blanco’s mastery was in danger, the California native pushed through on her own. In the sixth inning, Blanco found herself facing a 3-1 count with no outs. Just like that, Blanco battled back to strike out the Eastern Michigan batter.
The next batter came up to the plate for the Eagles, and with that came a 3-0 hole for Blanco to climb out of. Blanco fired off three straight swinging strikes.
“I was frustrated with always getting behind, and not getting ahead,” Blanco said. “You put yourself in a hole and you just want to get out. And I did.”
Eastern Michigan, though, seemingly tried every possible way to spoil Blanco’s masterpiece. Despite failing to capitalize on a deep fly ball, and multiple hitter’s counts, the Eagles still seemed destined to end the no-hitter.
Freshman shortstop Natalia Rodriguez saw a ball bounce off the tip of her glove and into left field with two outs in the seventh inning, but the umpires around her ruled the play an error, keeping the bid alive long enough for Blanco to crush the next Eagles batter with three strikes.
“I’m very hard on myself, so I expected that. It wasn’t really surprising, Blanco said. “As the game went on I was like, ‘I need to do this more,’ but when the game finished I could sit back and say that I actually did it, which was cool.”
Outside Blanco’s dominance, the Wolverines didn’t play particularly well — save for a few stolen bases. But perhaps the moment that most encapsulates the right-hander’s game came at the plate instead of the circle. Blanco corked a low hit off an Eastern Michigan fastball, which grazed the glove of an Eagles outfielder and gently whizzed past the right field foul pole for a home run.
Like most of what happened during the game for Michigan, that hit could have gone against the Wolverines.
It didn't though. Call it good fortune or call it “God’s Plan,” Blanco came through again for Michigan.