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Bates experiences success in softball at all levels
Former youth travel softball teammates Nicole Bates (11) and Madilyn Nickles helped lead the USA Softball Junior Womens National Team to a first-place finish at the WBSC World Championship last week in Florida. Bates, a 2016 Ceres High grad, had a memorable first season with the University of Washington this past spring. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Nicole "Sis" Bates' run of success over the past two years has been nothing short of amazing.

The 2016 Ceres High grad's latest accomplishment came this past weekend as a member of the USA Softball Junior Women's National Team.

She helped USA win a gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation World Championship.
Bates singled, knocked in one run and scored twice during Sunday afternoon's 13-4 victory over top-seeded Japan in the finals at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Florida.

"I'll never forget seeing our flag raised and hearing our National Anthem being played after that victory," said John Bates, Nicole's father. "It's been a crazy ride. I talked to Sis about it. The magnitude won't hit us for a while until we step away from it. This is what she's been working for. She knows how blessed she is right now."

Nicole batted .444 (12-for-27) from the plate with seven RBIs, 12 runs and two stolen bases during the tournament.

USA won all nine of its games.
"Playing for USA has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember and this experience is something I will never forget," Bates said. "Competing with and against the best of the best in the world was so cool. I was able to create some bonds that will last a lifetime. This experience has definitely helped shape me into a better player."

Bates had a productive freshman season with the University of Washington softball team this past spring.

The Huskies advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division-I Women's College World Series.

Washington fell two victories shy of qualifying for the championship game.

The Huskies claimed Super Regional and Regional titles.

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

She earned NFCA Pacific-Region Third-Team honors.

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

Nicole started all 64 games for 50-14 Washington, 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.

Bates and the Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers-Rico 18-and-under travel softball team captured the 2016 PGF National Championship. 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 filled a major role as Ceres High's softball program captured its second Sac-Joaquin Section title in 2016.

The Bulldogs ended a 21-year drought between championships by edging out Benicia 3-2 in the Division-III finals.

Nicole doubled once, singled twice and scored once.

She secured the victory with an unassisted double play.

In 114 career games with Ceres High, 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 2016 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 was also selected to the Louisville Slugger Hit Club, which recognized 11 of the nation's top hitters.

Nicole earned a spot on the Junior Women's National Team after surviving the selection process, which consisted of a two-day tryout in Florida.

Madilyn "Bubba" Nickles, Bates' former youth travel softball teammate and a Merced High School grad, also suited up for USA.

Bates' and Nickles' college teams faced off in the NCAA Championship Tournament in May.

Washington edged UCLA 1-0 at the Women's College World Series.

"Playing with Bubba was such a blast and I am so thankful that this opportunity led us to play together once again," Nicole said.