Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Blanco celebrates signing with Hutchinson

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 1/20/2014

It was a day of celebration. Ottawa High School senior Kendall Blanco had already figured out the hard part — where she was going to school and play softball.

This past Wednesday, the Cyclone softball star signed with Hutchinson Community College in front of her family, teammates and classmates in the OHS library.

It was a day of celebration. Ottawa High School senior Kendall Blanco had already figured out the hard part — where she was going to school and play softball.

This past Wednesday, the Cyclone softball star signed with Hutchinson Community College in front of her family, teammates and classmates in the OHS library.

There were a bunch of smiles, hugs and even tears of joy shed in the ceremony.

“I am very excited,” Blanco said. “I verbally committed a long time ago. This day took forever to come. It felt so good to have it here.”

Blanco said what set apart Hutchinson in the recruiting process was how the coaches and players made her feel. She knew that was the place for her when she returned to the car to go home.

“The coaches were very welcoming,” Blanco said. “It felt homey. They saw us as part of their family. That is very important when you are going to a college. It felt like a place I could pursue my education. It fit well. All the puzzle pieces connected together. The campus was beautiful.”

Ottawa coach Joe Serna said Hutchinson is getting more than it bargained for.

“We are so excited for her,” he said. “She is a special player. We wish her nothing but the best at the next level. We know she will go up there and compete. With her abilities, no matter what position they ask her to play she will go do it 100 percent without complaining. She will definitely earn the time she gets at Hutchinson. It will be exciting to follow her.”

Blanco has played softball competitively for most of her life. She worked towards being a good all-around softball player.

“Playing multiple positions is very good when coaches are looking at you,” Blanco said. “You can play different spots.”

She said Hutchinson wants her to play middle infield.

Serna said Blanco will leave huge shoes to fill when she goes to Hutchinson.

“Her work ethic is second to none in our program,” Serna said. “She will be an example I use for future Cyclone teams for years to come. What she does in practice and game days is phenomenal. She has put in the time and effort. If we have more girls in our program willing to do that they could possibly have that opportunity to play at the next level. She is a great leader. She has girls doing winter workouts. The toughest thing we will miss is her leadership. Kudos to Kendall. A player like that you are excited to have them while you can.”

She has been a role model for young girls. She has given softball lessons to girls and maintained a 3.8 grade point average. She has spent hours volunteering for Hope House, Prairie Paws Animal Shelter and the Old Depot Museum.

Serna said Blanco is poised for a big senior season for the Cyclones.

“We want her to have a great senior season,” Serna said. “Play the game the way she knows how.”

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