The bullpen started to stir in the fifth inning but there was never a doubt who was going to finish the Class 4A Area 5 tournament in the circle Thursday night. Holtville’s KK Dismukes struck out her 14th batter of the game as the Bulldogs defeated Elmore County 10-1 for their fifth straight area championship.
“We were trying to make a pitching change there at the end but she was not giving the ball up,” Holtville coach Darryl Otwell said. “She wanted to finish it.”
Dismukes was in the circle for all 12 innings Holtville played in the area tournament. She struck out 25 batters across two wins against the Panthers while allowing just six hits and one run.
“He was messing with me and told me he was going to bring in someone else but I had to finish it,” Dismukes said. “I just wanted to do it for my teammates. I just want to keep winning.”
Dismukes also got things started on offense in the championship game. After Jordan Cousins singled and Bella Farmer walked, Dismukes drove a 2-2 pitch off the scoreboard in right field to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-0.
“It’s starting to come easier to me,” Dismukes said. “I’ve been more patient at the plate and I’ve been swinging at my pitch.”
The blast was her second of the day and 21st of the season. Dismukes added another RBI in the fifth inning to put the Bulldogs up 5-0. In four games against the Panthers this season, Dismukes has four home runs and 13 RBIs.
“She’s a fantastic hitter obviously,” ECHS coach Kim Moncrief said. “She can hit it out and she will. She’s hit every pitch of ours out except the changeup.”
Holtville (39-9) added four runs in the sixth inning to put the game away. Cyndi Thornton had four RBIs in the championship and Farmer led the team with four runs scored.
Maci Curlee had the only RBI single of the game for the Panthers (20-15), scoring Madison Britt in the sixth inning. Curlee also homered against BTW earlier in the tournament and reached base in six of 12 plate appearances.
CJ Thornton led the team with eight RBIs across the four games during the tournament. Eleanor Watts had seven hits to lead the Panthers, including three doubles.
“We were looking for some longevity,” Moncrief said. “Playing four back to back games today was tough but I was proud of our girls for being able to do that.”
Holtville is one win shy of its second consecutive 40-win season but the Bulldogs have their sights set on Lagoon Park for the state tournament this year. While there are still goals to reach, Otwell said it had to start at the area tournament and the Bulldogs came through.
“You start setting all those goals early in the year and you can get distracted,” Otwell said. “I thought they showed up today and hit the ball extremely well. We had great pitching and got it done quickly. We came in with that intensity and competed on a very high level.”
Both teams will advance to the Class 4A East Central Regional which will be played at Choccolocco Park in Oxford. Holtville will play Oak Grove in the first round while Elmore County will face off against Leeds on Thursday. Both games are set to begin at 10:30 a.m.