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Bates among elite talent
Nicole Bates holds ball
Former Ceres High softball star/University of Washington senior shortstop Nicole Bates.

Softball America singled out three of the best shortstops at the NCAA Division-I level in an article posted on its website on Dec. 7.

Ceres High School grad/University of Washington senior standout Nicole “Sis” Bates didn’t commit a single error during the COVID-19 shortened season this past spring.

“Washington’s Sis Bates is arguably the best defender in college softball today, and is even considered by many to be one of the best in the sport’s history,” Softball America staff writer Austin Wales stated. “Bates, also known as softball’s human highlight reel, has one final college season left to wow fans of the Huskies and the sport at large.”

Bates couldn’t be reached for comment for this article.

“I don’t look at myself as one of the best,” she stated in an April 22 interview with NCAA Digital Reporter Michella Chester. “I just want to keep competing and getting a little bit better every day. Coach (Heather) Tarr is big on being the best versions of ourselves that we can be at the University of Washington.”

Bates ranked sixth on Softball America’s list of top 100 college players for the 2021 season.

Rachel Garcia (UCLA), Miranda Elish (Texas), Jessica Harper (Arizona), Kindra Hackbarth (Arizona State) and Gabbie Plain (Washington) ranked first, second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Bates and Hackbarth played softball together with the Ceres-based Tri-County Smash as youngsters.

Bates has developed into one of the top players in NCAA Division-I softball history.

She was voted best shortstop on ESPN’s Greatest All-Time Softball Team via a fan poll on June 9.

She didn’t commit a single error during the 2020 COVID-19 shortened spring season.

She totaled 18 putouts and 33 assists in 15 games.

A first-team All-American two times and the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and sophomore, Bates has made just two errors the past two seasons.

“Softball is so fun,” she said. “I love it so deeply. People make fun of me for it.”

Bates has collected 245 hits, eight homers, 13 triples, 42 doubles, 113 RBIs and 172 runs in 202 career games.

She’s helped lead Washington to three trips to the NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series, including a finals appearance in 2018.

“I’m around people that make me better every day,” Bates said.

Bates will return for a fifth and final season with the Huskies in 2021. 

She was granted an extra year of eligibility after the 2020 spring campaign was cut short due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Washington had a 23-2 overall record and ranked No. 2 in the country prior to the stoppage.

Bates, who missed 10 games after being placed in concussion protocol, hit .529 with one triple, five doubles, 12 RBIs, 17 runs, six stolen bases and six walks in 15 games.

She had a 1.000 fielding percentage.

“I’m just so thankful that I’m able to play the game I love with the people I love,” Bates stated in a July 2 interview with Huskies teammate Brooke Nelson.

“Winning a national championship has always been a goal,” she added. “I would love to play in the Olympics.”