OKLAHOMA CITY — While the sun was shining bright Thursday afternoon as the Ardmore Lady Tigers took the field at the state tournament, the Pryor Lady Tigers soon brought a dark cloud to the field.
A five run first inning put Ardmore in a tough spot, as the defending state champion Pryor eliminated AHS 12-1 in five innings at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Ardmore softball was making its first state tournament appearance since 2003.
“I think we got squeezed a little bit at the plate when we were pitching,” Ardmore coach Charli Crawford said. “We kind of let the moment overwhelm us a little out there. At the end of the day we did the best we could with what we had, and I’m very proud of this group.”
Pryor’s Kennedy Cramer and M’Kayla Hillman proved to be a dose of double trouble early and often for Ardmore throughout the state quarterfinals.
Cramer made it 1-0 for Pryor in the bottom of the first when her bloop single fell on the shallow end of left field with the bases loaded.
Then, Hillman stepped up and hit a grand slam, putting AHS in an early 5-0 deficit.
However, there was a glimmer of hope in the top of the second thanks to Ardmore sophomore Chloe Pender.
Pender stepped up and smashed a solo home run to right center, giving Ardmore a lifeline, leaving the game at 5-1 going to the bottom half of the inning.
“Chole has been working a lot on her hitting,” Crawford said. “She’s always taking extra cuts, and that paid off for her today. We told the girls to be aggressive at the plate and she saw a pitched she liked early in the count, and got all of it.”
Unfortunately, Ardmore’s momentary momentum was quickly shut down by Pryor.
Olivia Rains sent an RBI double to deep left center to make it 6-1, before Cramer got another RBI double to left center to make it 7-1.
Then, once again it was Hillman stepping up for Pryor, this time hitting a two-run home run to center, putting the game on the verge of a run-rule at 9-1.
In the fourth inning, Cramer along with Kelsey Cantrell and Payton White all collected RBI hits to seal the game.
Lexi Duff took the loss in the circle for Ardmore, registering three strikeouts in her final game as a member of the Lady Tigers softball team.
Raines, who is committed to the University of Oklahoma, managed just five strikeouts on the mound for Pryor.
Ardmore finishes the season under sixth-year coach Charli Crawford with an overall record of 23-12, along with its first regional title since 2003.
“When I took over this program, my goal was to always get this program back to the way it was when I played for this team,” Crawford said. “God put it on my heart to rebuild this program. This happened because of great coaches, great players, and parents spending countless hours driving and providing tools for the kids. My dad has also spent countless hours hitting indoors as well. This was a team effort of a lot of people that made this happen and it’s a very special thing to have happened for this community.”
AHS will graduate three seniors in Lexi Duff, Taegan Marris, and Madisen Moore.