Nicole “Sis” Bates revealed she considered quitting softball as a teenager during a Podcast interview with University of Washington teammate Brooke Nelson on July 2.
Bates was a sophomore at Ceres High School when she lost her passion for the game.
The grind of traveling 36 hours a month to practice with and play for the nationally-ranked Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers-Rico travel squad was mentally and physically exhausting.
“That was the biggest aha moment I’ve had in the sport,” Bates stated during her 32-minute conversation with Nelson. “Getting to the point where I was so low I literally wanted to quit.”
“Everybody goes through that,” she added. “When you are, it’s important to have people to talk to.”
Sis decided to continue her softball journey after seeking advice from her parents John Bates and Michelle Hedden and travel coach Tony Rico.
“I learned to love the game again,” she said. “It’s a whole new world to me now.”
Bates has since 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 11 errors during her career. She committed just two 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.
“I’m thankful I get to play the game I love with the people I love,” Bates said.
“It truly feels like I’m living out my dream,” she added. “I’m so thankful I’ve been awarded the opportunity to do that.”
Bates graduated from Washington on June 12.
She earned a sociology degree.
Bates had a perfect 4.0 GPA her last semester
She will follow in older brother Jimmy’s footsteps by enrolling in the college’s Leadership & Higher Education Master’s Program.
“I’m not quite sure what I want to do yet,” she said. “I’ll figure it out.”