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Bates dream becomes a reality
Nicole Bates - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Nicole "Sis" Bates' life has revolved around softball for as long as she can remember.

The 2016 Ceres High grad/University of Washington standout is fulfilling a dream this summer by playing for the USA Junior Women's National Team (JWNT).

"This opportunity is truly an honor," Bates stated on her Team USA profile page.

Nicole, an infielder, started training with the JWNT in Oklahoma City in June.

Bates and Team USA competed at the World Cup of Softball XII in Oklahoma City.

The JWNT compiled a 4-4 record on its way to a fifth-place showing.

Bates posted a batting average of .500 with two doubles, nine RBIs and three runs as the JWNT collected wins against Puerto Rico, Philippines, Mexico and Canada.

She collected two doubles, five RBIs and one run versus the Philippines on July 7.

"Reflecting on the past month while playing with the JWNT, I can honestly say that it has been such an incredible experience already," Bates stated in a Summer Softball write-up on the University of Washington athletics website. "I have played against most of these gals this past year and finally being able to build relationships with them on and off the field has been so great. This experience has always been a dream of mine and it is everything that I hoped for and more."

Nicole made her debut at the USA JWNT Friendlies, June 16-18, in Oklahoma.

She batted .600 (6-for-10) from the plate with one homer, two RBIs, four runs and three walks as the JWNT topped the Texas Bombers (12-3), SD Renegades (6-2), LA VooDoo (16-1) and Florida Gators (8-0).

"Our team has really grown as a unit throughout this past month," Bates said.

Bates had a success-filled freshman season with Washington this past spring.

She was a finalist for the 2017 Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Freshman of the Year award.

Nicole earned NFCA Pacific-Region Third-Team honors.

She was also selected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.

Nicole started all 64 games for the 50-14 Huskies, with her primary position being second base.

She posted a batting average of .338 with three home runs, six triples, 10 doubles, 33 RBIs and 42 runs.

Bates collected 66 hits.

She committed just five errors

Nicole ranked first on the team in triples, second in total hits and runs scored, fourth in doubles, fifth in RBIs and total bases, and sixth in homers, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

She led the conference in triples.

Sixth-seeded Washington advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division-I Women's College World Series.

The Huskies fell two victories shy of qualifying for the championship game.

Washington claimed Super Regional and Regional titles.

Bates helped guide Ceres High to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III crown in 2016.

In 114 career games with the Bulldogs, Nicole batted .512 (205-for-400) with 14 homers, 22 triples, 31 doubles, 102 RBIs, 171 runs, 52 stolen bases and 32 walks with just 13 strikeouts.

Bates won the Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State Player of the Year award.

She received FloSoftball All-American First-Team honors and Premier Girls Fastpitch West Regional All-American Team accolades.
Bates and the Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers-Rico 18-and-under travel softball team captured the PGF National Championship last summer. Competing in the Premier Division, Firecrackers-Rico edged California Cruisers-Sievers 2-0 for the National crown. Nicole accounted for two of her team's three hits.

Nicole participated in the PGF High School All-American Game. She singled twice and scored once as the West prevailed 4-3 while battling the East.

Bates was also selected to the Louisville Slugger Hit Club, which recognized 11 of the nation's top hitters.

Nicole earned a spot on the JWNT after surviving the selection process, which consisted of a two-day tryout (Dec. 31-Jan. 1) in Florida.

Bates participated in a total of six scrimmages.

She was invited to the selection camp after impressing at an open tryout attended by more than 160 players.

"When I sit back and think about it, Ceres isn't that big of a town," said John Bates, Nicole's father. "For her to do what she's done is amazing. Nothing she does surprises me anymore. But the level at what she's doing it surprises me. When the stakes are high, that's when she's at her best. She likes that pressure and competition."

Bates planned to wear her college and high school jersey number this summer with the JWNT.

Taken by another teammate, Nicole switched from 22 to 11.

Jimmy Bates, Nicole's older brother and a 2014 CHS grad, wore that number in high school.

Jimmy earned six varsity letters during his prep athletic career, including three in baseball, two in basketball and one in football.

Nicole and Team USA will travel to Florida later this month to compete at the July 24-30 WBSC World Championship.

"She's living her dream," John said. "It's pretty cool. It's still hard to believe."