By KAMARRI DARRINGTON

Holtville softball coach Daryl Otwell said he challenged the bottom part of his lineup to start producing runs of its own.

Those players delivered to start area play last Tuesday as the Bulldogs earned a 12-4 victory at Elmore County.

It also didn’t hurt that Bulldogs pitcher and Auburn signee KK Dismukes struck out eight of the first nine batters she faced and was perfect through the first three innings.

Holtville (28-8), the No. 2 team in Class 4A, got a leadoff home run from Bella Farmer to kick off a six-run barrage in the second inning.

After Haley Walker struck out, Zoe Lowe doubled and Katie Henley singled. Jordan Cousins then hit a two-run single, scoring Walker and Henley, for a 3-0 lead.

Brooke Cooper followed with a single and Dismukes drove in Cousins with one of her own. Then another error by Elmore County resulted in two more runs.

“Earlier in the season, we struggled hitting as games started,” Otwell said. “(Last Tuesday), we had the big second inning. The home run kind of jumpstarted it. We hit a lot of balls hard. We got a lot of balls bouncing our way. Anytime you put up six runs in an inning, it gives you an opportunity to get some backups in, and that’s good for us going down the stretch.”

Dismukes was just as dominant at the plate as she was in the circle, going 3-for-4 with five RBIs including a two-run homer in the fourth to extend Holtville’s lead to 8-0. She added a two-run single in the seventh. Dismukes pitched four innings, allowing one run off two hits with nine strikeouts.

Dismukes is hitting well over .500 with 12 home runs after last Tuesday’s game.

“(KK) is one of the best players in Class 4A softball,” Otwell said. “Anytime she’s on the field, you know you’re going to get her best. When she’s on, she’s very tough to beat and you know that one or two runs can get the job done.”

Elmore County’s improving offense finally started connecting in the fourth. Madelyn Becker singled then scored on an RBI double from Madison Britt.

The Panthers (10-9) scored three more runs in the sixth off Cooper, who came in relief for Dismukes to start the fifth.

Ebone Pearson led off the inning with a double, Kelina Daniels added a single then Britt hit an RBI single to score Pearson. Daniels scored on a groundout by Eleanor Watts then Britt scored on an RBI single by Akerria Harden.

Maci Curlee pitched all seven innings for Elmore County, allowing 12 hits and five walks with one strikeout.

“I feel like our offense is our strong point right now,” Panthers coach Kim Moncrief said. “Maci has done a good job for us in the circle. She battles very hard and has developed multiple pitches even as a sophomore. We’re still making a lot of defensive mistakes, but I believe we’ve got a team that’s feeling more confident that it can play against the better teams in the state.”