Over the course of her career at Holtville, KK Dismukes has shown off plenty of skill on the softball field and it takes something special to surprise the coaching staff. While her 15-strikeout performance in the circle was impressive enough, that special moment came when Dismukes hit a key two-run homer in a 6-0 win over Elmore County last Tuesday as the Bulldogs clinched the right to host the Class 4A Area 5 tournament.

“I don’t know if I have ever seen a ball get out of this ballpark so fast and so far,” Holtville coach Darryl Otwell said. “I have no idea where that ball landed. She’s very selective and when she gets that pitch, she’s not going to miss.”

Dismukes took the 2-0 pitch over the area championships sign in left-center field to double Holtville’s lead in the fifth inning and take the life out of the Panthers’ dugout. It was her 13th home run of the season and her seventh home run against Elmore County in her career.

In the circle, Dismukes allowed just four Panther baserunners across seven innings. She struck out 15 batters while recording her ninth shutout of the season.

“We have to play for every out in every inning,” ECHS coach Kim Moncrief said. “We’ve got girls that can hit it out and we know that can change the direction of the game for either team but you can’t win with zero on the board.”

Elmore County (13-11, 2-2) was in the game early but could not capitalize on the limited opportunities with runners at the plate. The Panthers did not have a runner reach second base until the seventh inning.

Maci Curlee was in the circle for the Panthers and got off to a hot start, allowing just four hits and one run across the first four innings. Holtville broke the game open in the fifth inning but Curlee had the Bulldogs off balance early in the night.

“We had some good swings tonight but give Elmore County a lot of credit,” Otwell said. “They made the plays early and I give a lot of credit to any pitcher that can go through our lineup almost two times without giving up a run.”

Holtville’s offense got things started in the third inning when leadoff batter Jordan Cousins walked and stole second base with two outs. Brooke Cooper came through with an RBI single to put the Bulldogs ahead 1-0.

“We always trust Cousins,” Otwell said. “She has above average speed but she just runs the bases so well. We don’t give her a lot of stealing opportunities because of the power in our lineup but she’s still perfect on stealing bases this year.”

Cousins added another stolen base, her 12th of the season, in the fifth inning and Cooper got her third hit of the day to double the lead. Cooper finished a home run shy of the cycle and has recorded multiple hits in nine of 13 games since being moved to the 2-hole in the lineup.

“She has always had those quality at bats,” Otwell said. “Since we made that move at Gulf Shores, Cooper has been on an absolute tear. She’s one of the main factors that is opening the door for Dismukes to have those big hits.”

Dismukes followed Cooper’s RBI triple with her big home run in the fifth inning. The Bulldogs extended their lead in the sixth inning with an RBI single from Haley Walker and a run scored by Reagan Thorn on a passed ball.

Scoring any runs against Dismukes is a tough ask but Elmore County is not letting Tuesday’s game affect its mindset at the plate. Moncrief believes the Panthers can learn a lot from facing Dismukes leading up to next week’s area tournament.

“We’re usually pretty confident in our hitting,” Moncrief said. “Seeing KK helps us the more we see her. That builds our confidence a little bit too and battling out a seven-inning game helps for the next time we see her.”

Holtville has bigger goals for the remainder of its season but hosting the area tournament was always the first step.