Firecrackers Rico Alumni 2022 Season Update

Kraig King

With the first month of the 2022 NCAA Softball season having been completed this past weekend it’s time to check in with some of our Firecrackers Rico Alumni from around the country.

Alle Bunker - Oregon

We begin up north in Eugene, Oregon where senior second baseman Allee Bunker (2018) is off to another hot start for the Pac-12’s Oregon Ducks. Allee finished the first month of the season on fire with a .380 batting average, belting 2 homeruns with 12 RBI and 11 runs scored leading Oregon to an 11-3 record. While Bunker makes hitting look effortless it’s the long hours of practice and her mental approach at the plate that has led to her success. “I definitely think my hard work has paid off me so far this season. Now that I am in my senior year, I truly understand the amount of time it takes throughout the rest of the year to play for just a few short months during the season.” Allee said before boarding a plane for games in North Carolina. “The hardest part of hitting is staying in a constant mindset. I visualize on only good outcomes and I just focus on the current at bat. This thought process has led to success a good amount of the time.” With the numbers Allee has put up in her career “a good amount of success” is an understatement.

Bella Espinoza - San Diego State

San Diego State freshman Bella Espinoza (2021) kicked off her college career with a bang by being named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Week on February 16th. Bella went 7 for 15 (.466) with 1 RBI, 3 runs scored with one stolen base all while playing stellar defense at second base, helping the Aztecs win four out of five games to open the season. “I was so happy to be named Mountain West Freshman of the week my first weekend out playing” Bella said when asked to describe her feelings on winning the award. “It was so exciting for me and seeing how proud my teammates were was even more exciting (than winning the award).” While she is happy with her start to the season and the recognition it brings, Espinoza knows there is still work to be done and not to become complacent. “Now I know I have to continue to play at this level throughout the whole season, I look forward to gamedays every week.”

Thessa Malau'ulu - UCLA

UCLA Sophomore Thessa Malau’ulu (2020) is hitting a solid .276 through 10 games, but it’s her defensive skills that have made national headlines when she made a great defensive diving catch against Texas at the Elite Invitational in Florida on 2/19, which earned her a spot on the NCAA Soft ball top 5 Plays of the Week.

Other Notable Performances

  • Senior Grace Lyons (2018) is off to another amazing start for the defending National Champion Oklahoma Sooners. Through the first 14 games Grace his hitting (.429) with 4 homeruns, 12 RBI’s and 17 runs scored helping the Sooners roll to a perfect 15-0 start to 2022.
  • Rachel Crabtree (2017) is getting it done on Tobacco Road in Durham, North Carolina for the Duke Blue Devils. Rachel has started her super-senior campaign off strong by slugging 4 homeruns, driving in 11 and scoring 14 times, helping Duke to an impressive (13-3) start and a #7 national ranking.
  • Freshman shortstop Emma Sellers (2021) has made an immediate impact on the South Carolina softball program. Emma is hitting an impressive (.395) through the first 15 games for the Gamecocks. Emma has 17 hits, with 8 RBI’s and has scored 11 runs with a (.932) fielding percentage as South Carolina has won 10 out of their 15 games.
  • Fighting Irish senior outfielder Emma Clark (2018) continues her stellar career with a solid start in South Bend, Indiana. Clark is 11 for 33 (.333) with 2 RBI’s and 9 runs scored in helping Notre Dame to an early 12-3 record.