It was a moment Ardmore sophomore Lauren Blankenship had only dreamed of.

It was a moment Ardmore sophomore Lauren Blankenship had only dreamed of.

What it turned out to be was an ending not even Hollywood could have scripted Friday afternoon.

With two runners on base, the Lady Tigers player known as “LB” stepped up to the plate and stepped into the Ardmore softball history books as her walk-off RBI single clinched the Class 5A regional championship for the Lady Tigers, a 10-0 five inning victory over Guthrie.

The win earned Ardmore softball its first state tournament appearance since 2003 and the first for sixth-year head coach Charli Crawford, after a regional runner-up finish last season.

“It feels unreal to be honest,” Crawford said about making the state tournament. “I’m so proud of these girls on such a deep level. These are great kids and work so hard in and out of practice. We’ve faced adversity during the season and overcome it. This is where we wanted to be today as a team.”

Before Blankenship sent the standing room only crowd at the Ardmore softball field into a frenzy with her walk-off heroics, she first played a vital role in giving the Lady Tigers a dream start in the first inning.

After Lexi Duff brought home Shakira Smith with an RBI single to center to make it 1-0, the sophomore first baseman smashed a two-run home run to center field, putting the Lady Tigers up 3-0.

“Even though Lauren is a sophomore, the girls look to her to be a leader,” Crawford said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her for the way she played today and how she’s taken ownership of her role on this team.”

She wasn’t done however.

Blankenship would further cement Ardmore’s lead with two more RBI off a hard ground ball to the GHS shortstop, making it 5-0 in the bottom of the second inning.

“I got an inside pitch at first and I hate inside pitches,” Blankenship said about her at bat before her two-run home run. “The next pitch literally came in slow motion to me. It looked so pretty like a meal on a platter. I knew it was gone as soon as it hit the bat.”

“Coach Crawford told me that she believed in me before I came to bat in the fifth,” Blankenship added. “I wasn’t thinking hitting a home run, I was just thinking about putting the ball in play and winning this for my team. I can’t think of a better group to go to state with than these girls and this family.”

Smith would make it 6-0 in the third inning with an RBI bunt single, before Emma Nightengale put Ardmore up 7-0 in the fifth with an RBI single down the third base line.

Avery Lowe then got an RBI single off a line drive to left field, before Duff slapped an opposite field RBI to make it 9-0.

Duff would grab the win on the mound, throwing five innings. She allowed just two hits in the game with no walks and eight strikeouts.

“This is the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my entire life,” Duff said about making the state tournament. “I just had a calm being out there on the mound knowing this was my last home game ever. I’ll never be able to forget that moment of being dog piled out there on the field.”

Duff added the moment was even more special as she got to share the moment with her family, including her sister Coach Crawford.

“This was the dream that I had moving back over here,” she said. “I wanted to go to state for her and I wanted to make this happen for us. It still hasn’t sunk in that it’s happened, but I’m so glad that it really is happening.”

The moment was equally emotional for Crawford, who credited her long-time best friend and assistant coach Molly Stevens along with fellow assistant coach Vic Brumley for making this journey worthwhile.

“Molly (Stevens) has been my best friend for 15 years,” she said. “When she signed up to be an assistant coach with me then we knew we could do something special together. The fact we get to share this moment together means the world to me. Both her and coach Brumley put in countless hours working the field and preparing these girls, and they don’t get enough credit for that. I’m so blessed to have them as part of this team.”

“Lexi worked so hard in the offseason to get her pitches where they are right now,” Crawford added. “Sharing this with her is more special than anyone can imagine. Our motto this season was ‘For Him’ and we give all the glory to God for this moment and everything we have accomplished this season as a team.”

Ardmore will enter the Class 5A state tournament with an overall record of 23-11. The Lady Tigers will play Thursday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City against an opponent to be announced at a time to be announced.