Bri Ellis Has a Message for Any Auburn Haters Who Still Consider Her ‘Charmin Soft’

Bri Ellis, Arkansas softball, Arkansas vs Auburn, Auburn softball
photo credit: Craven Whitlow / ESPN

Long ago, the poet Robert Burns penned something to the effect of “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Arkansas softball star Bri Ellis couldn’t agree more.

Two years ago, she was at the start of what would become a SEC Freshman of the Year campaign while playing for Auburn. Back then, could she have seen herself now repping an SEC West foe and getting ready to take on her old teammates and coach Mickey Dean?

“I actually think about that all the time,” the Arkansas first baseman told Best of Arkansas Sports,  laughing.  Bri Ellis circa 2022  “would think that’s so random…. She’d be like ‘What happened to this four-year plan we had at Auburn?’ Everything happens for a reason.”

Now, Ellis helps lead the No. 20 Razorbacks (13-3) to open conference play on Friday in a place where her name dots the record books. The Houston, Texas native transferred to Arkansas following a standout sophomore season on the Plains in which she hit 14 home runs and a .601 slugging percentage, paired with a .275 batting average on 42 hits. 

Controversy Coming to Arkansas Softball

This past summer, a chorus of mixed opinions met Ellis’ announcement to transfer to the Razorbacks. Excitement from the Razorback fanbase, frustration from the Auburn softball side of things.  Some fans took to “X” (Twitter) to vent on the situation, with one burner account calling Ellis “Charmin soft,” for her decision to transfer schools — which Ellis cleverly used as an opportunity to pitch an sponsorship deal in a creative way.  Some fans speculated Ellis was making the switch for NIL deals, which Ellis denies. Instead, she decided to have fun with the hubbub, while pointing out how fabricated the claims were. 

“It felt a little out of control,” the junior said of the back and forth on social media. “I had to be careful with what I was saying because they would just blow things out of proportion. I’m a very sarcastic, witty person… they just take that and run with it, and make it into something it’s not. That’s not just (Auburn fans), that’s really any fanbase on Twitter… they put words in my own mouth, and it was like ‘Y’all don’t even know who I am.’”

For sure, she has no problem embracing the fun some Arkansas softball fans have with her name and propensity to hit homers. A spin off Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” has been created in her honor, as you can here below:

If it’s a lot more of that “Bri Bombin” this weekend, expect Arkansas to extend its nine-game winning streak in Auburn.

The most recent matchup came in April, 2022 when Arkansas dominated  the Tigers in a three-game series in Fayetteville.  One of those Tigers, of course, was Ellis.

“We got swept by Arkansas and it was bad,” she recalled. “It was ugly and I did not enjoy it. But, I remember telling my mom, ‘I wanna play for Coach [Courtney] Deifel. I wanna play for someone who believes in me like that, wants me to be great, and loves me for who I am.” 

Ellis added that even though she was in the opposing dugout, she could feel the camaraderie and school spirit inside Bogle Park.  Now as a Razorback, she said the positivity and loyalty from Arkansas softball fans motivates her and the rest of the team.

“Arkansas fans show up,” Ellis said. “Even when it’s freezing and raining, they’re there. They’re really true supporters and they want the best for the team. Not just for the wins, they’re there for us through thick and thin.”

“Rain or shine” is certainly an apropos descriptor for this past weekend’s Razorback Rumble. Friday’s opening matchup just barely missed the weather that washed out the second half of the double header. Arkansas slipped to South Alabama 2-1, despite leading in the first inning. Ellis kept the Razorbacks from a goose egg, with an RBI double to right field which scored Raegan Johnson. 

In the second game of the night, fans stuck it out with the drizzle until the contest between Arkansas and Saint Francis was called in the bottom of the third inning due to weather. 

Lighting struck Ellis’ bat by Saturday.  Against Northern Iowa, she cracked a solo homer and brought in an RBI duo on a sacrifice fly. The Razorbacks topped the Panthers 7-4. By the end of the second game of the night, Ellis had tied a career high in hits. The Texan bolted down three base hits along with two more RBI.  Arkansas redeemed itself with a 10-4 win over South Alabama in a late night contest.

On Sunday, the hot hitting for the Hogs continued. Arkansas locked nine hits for nine runs, wrapping the final game of the tournament in six innings against Northern Iowa. Ellis went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs and an RBI.

“I just felt like I was seeing the ball really well,” Ellis said of her weekend hitting. “I felt like I was on time. When our team hits hard line drives and hard ground balls, we’re really good.”

Bri Ellis Is Ready for Auburn

As Arkansas softball hits the road to head south this weekend, Ellis prepares to battle at Jane B. Moore front of the fans for which she used to compete.

Whether good or bad, or more likely both, she knows she’s going to hear it. “Honestly, the louder it is, the better” Ellis said. “I know that I could get some bad [comments] and I’ve accepted that. So, I’m not gonna be surprised and hurt by it, I’m expecting it.”

“But I also think there are gonna be a lot of people happy to see me, they’ve been reaching out to me. Anyways, it’s gonna take a lot of focus and tuning out, but it’s not gonna be anything I haven’t done before.”

Ellis plans to stay focused and lean on her new teammates when facing her former ones. One particular dangerous former teammate is senior pitcher Maddie Penta. With Penta dealing in the circle, Ellis and the rest of the Razorbacks will have no choice but to stay locked in during every single pitch.

Penta entered this past weekend’s series with Missoui with a duo of National Pitcher of the Week honors. After back to back losses in the first two of the series, Auburn rallied to cap the weekend with a win while Penta recorded her sixth shutout of the season. This was Penta’s 67th win of her collegiate career, which ties the record for the most in the program’s history. 

Ellis is ready for taking on the challenge with her signature light touch. “Well at least I’m used to playing at Auburn,” she joked. “It’ll probably feel weird a little bit. But, I’m excited to see everyone again and hopefully not too many bad things are said in the crowd.”

She recalled her time as a Tiger fondly and the bonds she made with those former Auburn softball teammates. As a Razorback, Ellis spoke about how the team’s drive is her favorite part about wearing the Arkansas letters across her jersey. It just so happens that her former team is now in the path of goals like winning the SEC and ultimately making the Women’s College World Series.

That prospect meeting that squarely head on doesn’t faze her in the least.

“For the most part, I think it’s gonna be fun and I’m excited.”

How to Watch Arkansas vs Auburn

Dates: Friday-Sunday, March 15-17

Location: Jane B. Moore Field (Auburn, Ala.)

TV/Stream: SEC Network-Plus

First Pitch

  • Friday: 5 p.m. CT
  • Saturday: 3 p.m. CT
  • Sunday: 1 p.m. CT


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