With one out and a runner on first base, Holtville shortstop Bella Farmer was about to experience something she never had before. After catching a line drive, Farmer fired the ball to first base to double up the runner, clinching a 6-2 victory over Leeds to send the Bulldogs to the state tournament.
“Honestly, I didn’t even think about it in the moment,” Farmer said. “Once I threw it to first and got her out, it hit me. That was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
Farmer helped push the team to three wins in two days to help secure a spot in Lagoon Park and it was fitting for her to have a key part in the final play. She continued her postseason tear by extending her hitting streak to six games and leading the Bulldogs in extra-base hits and RBIs along the way. Farmer is the Elmore County Player of the Week.
“This whole season I have been struggling a bit but that doesn’t matter in the playoffs,” Farmer said. “For me, I felt more relaxed because I think I play better under that pressure.”
During the regular season, Farmer had a batting average of just .312 which was 84 points lower than where she finished her sophomore season a year ago. However, she has raised that by 40 points in just six postseason games while leading the team in hits, runs and RBIs at the East Central Regional in Oxford.
“She didn’t really have the year she wanted to have in the regular season,” Holtville coach Daryl Otwell said. “She always works hard though and I challenged her to be better for the postseason. I told her no one is going to remember what you did in the regular season if you come through in the playoffs.”
After going hitless in the three games leading to the postseason, Farmer got a hit in all four at bats during the area tournament. She continued that stretch into regional play with a big start against Oak Grove.
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start at the plate but the offense helped give KK Dismukes some breathing room in the circle with a big fifth inning. Farmer hit her third home run of the season on a two-run shot to right field to put the Bulldogs ahead 5-0.
“She looked more confident and more at ease,” Otwell said. “She looked like she was having fun again.”
After rain cut the first day short, Farmer continued her hot streak into the second-round matchup with Northside. She had two hits in two at bats and recorded an RBI and a run scored for the fourth consecutive game.
Farmer slotted into the sixth position in the batting order for the tournament, two spots behind Dismukes in the batting order. While teams continued to walk Dismukes, Farmer picked up the slack with some big hits, including another home run in the region championship game against American Christian which temporarily gave the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead.
“We expected people to pitch around her going into regionals,” Otwell said. “We needed those big at bats from them to protect Dismukes a little bit. It was huge for her to step up like that.”
Farmer is now 10-for-16 at the plate across six postseason games while scoring 11 times and recording 12 RBIs, at least one in each game. The Bulldogs will continue to look for Farmer’s big performances at the state tournament this week and Farmer seems to have a simple plan to make sure they come home with a trophy.
“Keep playing like we’ve been playing and hope the ball bounces our way,” Farmer said.