Nicole “Sis” Bates resumed her professional softball career in the Athletes Unlimited league this past week.
The 2016 Ceres High School grad/former University of Washington star shortstop also earned her master’s degree in education but was unable to walk the stage due to a conflicting schedule.
Bates’ father John and younger sister Samantha made the trip to San Diego to watch her compete.
“We were so blessed to be able to be there,” John Bates said. “It was nice seeing her back on the field and in general. She’s been so busy. She definitely appreciates the opportunities and she expresses that.”
Athletes Unlimited is a player-centered sports organization.
Each week, team captains draft new teams.
Players and teams compete for points.
Bates ranked 10th with 398 points through the league’s first four games.
She collected one double, two singles, four RBIs and two runs as Team Chidester compiled a near-perfect 3-1 record during Series 1 action, staged June 11-15 at San Diego State Softball Stadium.
She also turned two double plays on defense.
Bates scored the winning run in a 9-8 victory against Team Eberle on June 14. She was named one of the game’s three Most Valuable Players. She batted 2-for-4 from the plate with one double, one single, two RBIs and one run.
“I really love softball,” Sis Bates said during a recent interview with The Courier. “It takes up a lot of my time. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I’m very grateful to be where I’m at. It’s more than I could have dreamed of. Softball has given me everything in my life.”
A standout infielder/hitter on the NCAA Division-I Washington softball team from 2017-21, Bates made the transition to coaching this spring as a student assistant with the Huskies.
Bates, one of the most decorated players in UW history, became the program’s all-time hits leader during her final season.
She collected 320 hits in 261 career games.
She also ranks first in triples (18), third in runs (227), fourth in batting average (.385) and fifth in doubles (54) in program history.
She had on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages of .450, .526 and .976, respectively.
Bates became just the second player in Pac-12 history to be named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year three times.
Bates totaled just seven errors dating back to the start of the 2019 campaign, which covered a span of 135 games. Her career fielding percentage of .980 is the second-highest mark for any middle infielder in Washington history.
Bates batted .389 from the plate in 2021 with one homer, five triples, 12 doubles, 32 RBIs, 55 runs and 21 stolen bases.
She led the Pac-12 in hits with 75.
Bates started the year a perfect 18-for-18 on stolen bases.
Bates also made history by becoming just the fifth hitter from Washington to earn NFCA All-American honors for a third time.
She was selected to the NFCA Second Team.
She was a first-team pick in 2019 and 2018.
Bates was a Top-10 finalist for 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
She was named Washington’s 2020-21 Pac-12 Tom Hansen Conference Medal recipient for Outstanding Female Student-Athlete.
She made the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll in 2020 and earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention recognition in 2019.
She won the 2019 Seattle Female Sports Star of the Year award.
She was voted best shortstop on ESPN’s Greatest All-Time Softball Team via a fan poll in 2019.
Bates earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a 3.92 grade-point average.
Bates filled a major role in leading Washington to 222 victories, three trips to the Women’s College World Series—including one finals berth—and one Pac-12 regular-season title.
“She’s an inspiration,” said Heather Tarr, Bates college head coach. “She’s everyone’s hometown hero.”
“I haven’t had time to sit back and think about that,” Bates said while talking about the success she’s achieved in the sport. “I’m grateful for the people that have helped me along the way.”
Bates was one of 12 players selected in the 2021 Athletes Unlimited Softball College Draft.
The season was staged, Aug. 28-Sept. 27, at the Parkway Bank Complex in Illinois.
Bates finished ninth in the individual standings her rookie year.
She batted .326 with five doubles, one triple, one RBI, six runs, one walk and one stolen base while starting all 15 games.
She tied for first in the league in doubles.
“I didn’t set any goals, stat-wise,” Bates said. “I just wanted to help my team win.”
Bates was a four-year standout at Ceres High School.
She was voted 2016 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State and Medium Schools Player of the Year.
The two-time FloSoftball First-Team All-American was selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Super Elite First Team and All-State Medium Schools First Team.
Bates and 10 other elite players from across the nation were named to the Louisville Slugger Hit Club.
She also participated in the Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) High School All-American Game.
Bates batted .571 from the plate with five homers, four triples, nine doubles, 33 RBIs, 45 runs and 14 stolen bases while striking out just five times in 113 plate appearances during her senior year with the Bulldogs.
She made just one error on defense.
Led by Bates, Ceres High collected 85 wins, claimed one Sac-Joaquin Section championship, captured three Western Athletic Conference crowns and appeared in the playoffs four times.
Bates won the 18-and-under PGF National Championship with the Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers-Rico team in 2016.
“It’s been exciting to watch her journey,” said Tony Rico, Bates’ head coach for three seasons at the travel-ball level. “She plays the game in a way that draws you in. She plays the game with a high IQ. She inspires people that watch her. She never wants to stand out above her teammates. I give her a lot of credit for that. There’s a fine line between arrogance and humility. And Sis is on the right side of the line.”