(Photo courtesy of Athletes Unlimited)

Dejah Mulipola’s Athletes Unlimited title represents the start of a new chapter for the California native.

After graduating from Arizona in 2021 and helping Team USA to a silver medal in Tokyo, Mulipola felt lost. Then came her breakout 2022 Athletes Unlimited season.

The star catcher finished tied for 18th as a rookie in the 2021 AU season, then tied for third in the two-week AUX competition in June. To start this season, she burst out of the game, earning captainship during Week 2.

Mulipola continued to surge ahead of her competition. She ended the season at the top of the league in the batting average (.432), on-base percentage (.569), slugging percentage (1.182), home runs (9), RBIs (19), and stat points (632), making her the first-ever triple-crown winner in Athletes Unlimited history.

“After the Olympics walking away with the silver medal left a salty taste in my mouth. Then graduating from college and kind of refiguring out my identity it was a low point for me, you know, finishing those two chapters,” Mulipola told Just Women’s Sports. “So to finally be here and find success in softball and to find who I was outside of softball has done a lot for me personally on and off the field. It’s so freeing and it’s so fun.”

Entering the final game of the season, Mulipola trailed pitcher Alyssa Denham by 184 points on the league leaderboard. True to herself, Mulipola tried to focus on attitude rather than outcome heading into the game.

“I didn’t want to be result-oriented,” Mulipola said, “because at the end of the day that wasn’t going to be what gave me joy and it wasn’t going to be something that gave others joy on my team.”

The results, however, swung in Mulipola’s favor.

The 24-year-old capped off her historic AU run with a thrilling finale, blasting a home run to secure her team the win and herself the 2022 championship in her final matchup of the season.

“I just felt so overwhelmed with emotion that I started tearing up,” Mulipola recalls of her trip around the bases. “And when I got to home I actually started crying and everyone was just genuinely celebrating me and when they saw me crying, they started crying too. So a couple of us were actually crying in the dugout.”

The catcher’s crown makes her the first position player to win a softball title. Cat Osterman won the first in 2020, and Aleshia Ocasio won in 2021.

“Being a catcher, you never really get credit,” Mulipola said. “So it was pretty neat to be the first non-pitcher to be able to win.”

While sad to call it a wrap on the 2022 campaign, Mulipola already is looking forward to next year’s AU competition. Heralding the elite level of the league, Mulipola hopes she can continue to grow the game both through her stellar performance on the field and as an ambassador off it.