For most people, it takes many years to hone the skills necessary to play a game like softball at a high level.

For most people, it takes many years to hone the skills necessary to play a game like softball at a high level.   However, Ardmore’s Lauren Blankenship isn’t most people when it comes to an athletic sense, or an academic sense.   In fact, Blankenship didn’t actually start playing the game of softball until 8th grade.   While she might not have spent her whole athletic career on the softball diamond, no one can deny she made the perfect choice in picking up a bat.   In her time as a member of the Ardmore Lady Tigers softball team, Blankenship became one of the premier players when she stepped up to the plate.   The end result was a historic career, which has been capped off with Ardmore’s first All-State softball award since 2017, when Lexi Duff earned the honor.   While Blankenship might be trading in her Ardmore uniform for that of Louisiana-Monroe next fall, she will have one more chance to shine representing the Lady Tigers when she plays in the Large West All-State game next summer at Oklahoma Christian University.   “Getting All-State just validates all the hard work I’ve put in since my freshman year,” Blankenship said. “This is something I’ve wanted for so long and to have finally achieved it is very special to me.”   “Sharing this honor with Lexi means so much to me,” Blankenship added. “She is one of my best friends and her family has done so much for me as far as tournament ball and getting involved in that. Coach (Charli) Crawford has been a best friend for me on and off the field. She’s molded me into the player and the person that I am today. I’m very thankful for her.”   Perhaps one of the most special moments Blankenship got to have during her softball career was during the 2017 regional tournament at Ardmore, when she hit the game-winning walk-off RBI which sent the Lady Tigers back to the Class 5A state tournament.   “It means a lot to have that memory associated with my name,” Blankenship said. “To me that is leaving a legacy behind that the other girls can follow. Hopefully they look at it as a road map for getting back to the state tournament.”   This season, Lauren finished with a .512 batting average at the plate along with an .889 fielding percentage.   She was also named as the District 5A-1 Defensive Player of the Year on the All-District awards list this season, and was named as a member of the Large West All-State team, becoming the first Ardmore Lady Tigers player to earn the honor since 2017.   During her time as an Ardmore softball player she has also been named as the Offensive Player of the Year on the All-District awards list, and was a member of the 2017 and 2018 All-Ardmoreite softball teams.   For her 2017-18 season, Blankenship hit .526 at the plate with 51 hits, 33 RBI’s and five home runs. She also had the game winning walk-off RBI which sent the Lady Tigers to the state tournament that season.   In her junior season, Blankenship hit .484 at the plate and was walked 18 times during the season with 13 of those being intentional.   But her achievements don’t just end at the softball field as Lauren is a standout student in the classroom. She has earned valedictorian status and is a three-year Ribbon Scholar, where she has placed in the top one percent of her class.   “Whenever we were in the meeting, then I even said if Lauren didn’t get named All-State, that something was wrong,” Ardmore coach Charli Crawford said. “There were so many talented players who tried for this position, and to see her get it is very special for me personally because she was a very special person to coach and is an amazing human being.”