Dejah Mulipola To Lean On Team USA Experience With Arizona
Dejah Mulipola was one of three college softball players to put their senior seasons on hold to play for Team USA in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With the 2020 Olympics now postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19, Mulipola will return to Arizona for the 2021 season for one final college softball campaign with the Wildcats.
And that's great news for Arizona. Back in 2019, Mulipola was one of the leading hitters for the Wildcats, who went to the Women's College World Series for the first time in eight seasons.
Softball America caught up with Mulipola about her time with Team USA before COVID-19 shut things down, and what she looks forward to about the 2021 Arizona Wildcats.
Softball America: Returning for your senior season at Arizona, what are you looking forward to the most?
Dejah Mulipola: I'm definitely looking forward to being back in a Wildcat uniform, but also really looking forward to being back with this senior class. I got a taste of what it was like to not be with them last year, having to be on the sidelines, but I'm excited to be back at Rita (Hillenbrand Stadium) with the best fans and just being able to play softball again.
SA: What excites you the most about the 2021 Arizona Wildcats?
DM: We have a stacked lineup for sure. We have plenty of defensive options this year and we have a great bullpen for this year as well. We have a superior senior class, which is a blessing for sure, but we also have some stud freshmen with some great sophomores and juniors as well. We are definitely very well-rounded and have amazing coaches. There are not many faults to this team.
SA: Being one of three college athletes on Team USA's Olympic roster (along with UCLA's Rachel Garcia and Bubba Nickles), what is that like?
DM: I have definitely learned how to appreciate things more. I would say appreciate things more because we were still supposed to be college students last spring and most of the women on the team did not have to choose between college and Team USA. Being on tour, you are typically out of school already, but for Rachel (Garcia) and Bubba (Nickles), it was nice to go through that with them. The USA women really taught us how to be more mature and how to appreciate the game of softball because we saw how fast that can be taken away.
SA: Catching pitchers like Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, what were some of the biggest things you took away from that experience?
DM: I think with them being so experienced in the game, I got better at pitch calling because of them. Knowing that they are two very different pitchers and they like two different things in certain situations, that was an eye-opener for me because growing up, I always had pitches relayed to me through a coach, so I had to learn how to call pitches on my own. For Team USA, the pitcher and catcher work together and they are the ones calling the game, so for me to be able to soak up as much knowledge as possible from them was a blessing.
SA: After catching for Team USA last spring, what do you hope to implement into your own game for Arizona in 2021?
DM: The maturity aspect for sure is something that I am going to make a big part of my game after learning that from Team USA last year. Being able to relay that to the team this year and the knowledge that I was able to learn last spring is going to be one of the biggest things for me because not everyone is able to gain that kind of knowledge.