Bry Blanco did something you don’t hear about very often last year. The Maryville High School junior went the entire regular season without being retired once by strikeout.
The highly-touted national prospect would fan only twice in the ensuing district and region tournaments combined.
Blanco did something else a little out of the ordinary recently, the strong-armed shortstop announcing a verbal commitment to continue her softball career at the University of Georgia in two seasons time. A two-time All-State selection with Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky also extending scholarship offers, Blanco said she made up her mind about the Lady Bulldogs after a recent visit.
Everything about the Athens, Ga., school fit, so Blanco said she decided to go ahead and end all the pressures of recruiting early.
“I wanted to get it out of the way before my upcoming (travel team) tournaments so I wouldn’t feel any stress,” she said. “When I went to Georgia, something clicked. That didn’t happen anywhere else.”
A regular Women’s College World Series participant, Georgia ranks as one of the elite Division I programs for college softball, but that’s not the biggest reason Blanco said she chose the Lady Bulldogs. Already decided on a course of study - sports psychology - Blanco said the Georgia staff also addressed her academic goals.
“The coaches related to me when I went up there,” she said. “They understood what I want from a college.”
Blanco was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State Team in her freshman season at Maryville, getting the start at shortstop in her very first game as the Lady Rebels played to a third-place finish in that season’s state tournament. Repeating the feat a year later, Blanco’s stock went through the roof this summer when she was selected to play in the ultra-exclusive Under Armour All-America Softball Game at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.
Only the nation’s 30 best players receive an invitation.
Blanco hit .546 with 26 runs batted in, 41 runs scored and six home runs during her breakout freshman season at Maryville. As a sophomore last spring, the tore though the .600 plateau, finishing the year hitting at a .640 clip with 59 RBI and 13 bombs.
Having Blanco at short is a lot build on in his rookie season, first-year Maryville coach David Allen said.
“My mind’s a little more at ease,” he said.
Allen said Blanco informed him she was going with the Lady Bulldogs over the weekend.
“After she went to the others (for official visits), she came back and said that (Georgia) was the best fit,” he said. “She just wanted to get it out of the way so there’s no pressure.”