BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
When Bri Ellis’ bat met softball durng one of Arkansas’ Razorbacks Unlimited scrimmage this fall, there was no doubt the Auburn transfer’s blast was leaving her new home of Bogle Park.
It’s something that likely to happen numerous times next spring when Bri Bogle Bombs become a thing that delights the home fans.
Ellis, who hit 34 home runs in her two seasons at Auburn, showed off her power October 8-9 in Kansas City by hitting 5 round trippers in 4 games in the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Fallapalooza tournament.
That included three blasts, two of which were grand slams, in Arkansas’ opening game of event, in which it outscored its foes 56-2 in the quartet of contests.
“It’s a new place, a new uniform, a new team, a new field so I would say at first…I felt a little weird, but by the time I came to bat, I was like ‘I’m here, I’m a hog, I’m playing,’” said Ellis, a Houston, Texas native.
Ellis, who hit an Auburn freshman record of 20 home runs in 2022, joins All-Americans Rylin Hedgecock and Hannah Gammill and also Cylie Halvorson in giving the Razorbacks four hitters that have hit at least 18 blasts in a single season in their college career.
Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel recruited Ellis out of the transfer portal to replace Hedgecock, who had graduated and was at first not going to her last year of eligibility before changing her mind.
“When you look at Bri, you are looking at adding a big bat,” Deifel said. “At the time we thought we were replacing Rylin and then when you get Rylin back, you get to add them both to the line up. And then you add Cylie Halvorson to that conversation and Hannah Gammill to that conversation, we have some really big hitters that we can stream together.”
Ellis is thrilled to be part of the new group of Bogle Bombers, who will host their final Razorbacks Unlimited fall scrimmages on Friday, Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m.
“It’s crazy, but the most important thing about it is we like protect each other,” Ellis said. “So if you have like Hannah Gammill, Rylin Hedgecock, me, Cylie, it just keeps going on down. They are not just going to put you on base because you have got to go to the next one and then the next one. There is no easy outs and with that protect each other with our at bats.
“We are stacked and loaded and it just a crazy good line up. There’s never going to be a moment when it will be ‘oh, no, are we going to get it done? Because we will get it done.”
Ellis noted that she first thought about becoming a Razorback when Auburn came to play in Fayetteville when she was a freshman.
“I would say that ever since I played here as a freshman, I wanted to go here and I wanted to play for Coach Deifel and I wanted to play for these fans,” Ellis said. “Kind of in the back of my head, I knew the whole time I was going to come here. The portal is crazy.”
Ellis is active on social media and took a lot of criticism from the Auburn faithful on her decision to transfer to Arkansas, who has won at least 40 games in the last three seasons, been in the NCAA Tournament six straight seasons and notched a national seed in four of those six postseasons.
“It was weird at first and there was a lot of stuff coming out,” Ellis said. “I told my parents that I didn’t even know that many people knew who I was and now all these people are talking about me. It was funny at first, but it did get to some points where it was a lot and I would just like delete it for the day or two days and just take a break.
“Other than that, it was funny and all publicity is good publicity, all news is good news. Even though some people had some weird stuff to say, at the end of the day, there was so much good stuff that people had to say about me, especially the Razorback fans and family welcoming me.”