Ceres High grad Nicole “Sis” Bates returned home from Japan on June 24.
“It was cool being able to see their culture and see how much they idolize softball,” said Bates, who represented the USA Women’s National Team at the Japan All-Star Series. “Hopefully, it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Team USA compiled an 0-3 record against Japan.
The National Team lost 4-0 on June 20, 6-3 on June 21 and 6-0 on June 22.
“They’re good competition,” Bates said. “They respect the game. Personally, I enjoy watching them play.”
Games were played in Tokyo, Sendai and Fukushima.
“The stadiums were outrageous,” Nicole said. “There were 20,000 people at one of the games. They never really yelled. It was so quiet.”
Bates was sidelined with an injury in Japan.
“Of course, I wanted to play. But I knew I wouldn’t give my team the best opportunity to win if I played."Nicole Bates
“Of course, I wanted to play,” she said. “But I knew I wouldn’t give my team the best opportunity to win if I played. It was tough. I took a lot of notes in the dugout. I learned a lot.”
Bates and her teammates stayed in four different hotels in Japan.
They went sightseeing in Tokyo, Sendai and Fukushima.
“There was a lot of traveling,” Bates said. “I built relationships with new people. It was really fun.”
Nicole’s diet consisted of buffet-style meals, including chicken, potatoes, rice, vegetable soup, water and orange juice.
“It’s pretty different,” Bates said while comparing Japan’s cuisine to USA’s.
The flight from Sacramento to Japan lasted 13 hours.
There’s a 16-hour time difference between the two countries.
“It was the longest flight of my life,” Nicole said.
Bates could return to Japan, host site for the 2020 Olympics.
“A lot of stars have aligned,” she said. “It’s pretty hard to believe. But I keep things in perspective. Right now, I’m just trying to live in the moment and play the best I can for my team. Obviously, that (earning a spot on the Olympic Team) is the main goal. That would be a dream come true.”