ESPN’s Greatest All-Time Softball Team will be revealed on June 8.
Ceres High School grad/University of Washington senior Nicole “Sis” Bates is a finalist for best shortstop.
A first-team All-American two times and the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and sophomore, Bates has committed just 11 errors during her career. She’s made two the past two seasons.
Bates has collected 245 hits, eight homers, 13 triples, 42 doubles, 113 RBIs and 172 runs.
She’s helped lead Washington to three trips to the NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series, including a finals appearance in 2018.
“It’s an honor to be selected for something like this,” Bates said.
“Just to be nominated is amazing,” said John Bates, Sis’ father. “It’s pretty good company. They’re all great players.”
“Everyone in the athletic department looks up to Sis Bates,” Washington softball coach Heather Tarr said. “She leads from a genuine position in life, she is constantly learning, and she plays with her heart. She is an easy person to love and follow.”
“She cares a lot about doing well in all that she is involved with. She applies the same work ethic on the field as she does with being a great student, a great teammate, a great leader.”Coach Heather Tarr
“Sis possesses a lot of the qualities that other great players have,” Tarr added. “She cares a lot about doing well in all that she is involved with. She applies the same work ethic on the field as she does with being a great student, a great teammate, a great leader.”
Laura Espinoza (Arizona), Natasha Watley (UCLA), Dot Richardson (UCLA), Delaney Spaulding (UCLA), Ashley Hansen (Stanford), Madison Shipman (Tennessee) and Jessie Harper (Arizona) were also nominated for best shortstop.
“It’s humbling to see her in the same conversation with Natasha Watley and Dot Richardson,” John Bates said. “No offense to anybody on the list, but those two were the standard.”
ESPN is using a fan poll to determine its greatest all-time college softball team.
Beth Mowins, Jessica Mendoza, Holly Rowe, Jen Schroeder, Amanda Scarborough and Michele Smith, contributors for ESPN’s 7Innings Softball Podcast, selected eight finalists for each position.
Voting for shortstop began on May 29 and ended on Sunday.
“It’s been exciting to watch her journey,” said Tony Rico, Bates’ head coach for three seasons with the Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers-Rico softball team. “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.”
“ESPN picked the finalists,” John Bates said. “The fans are voting. It’s a popularity contest. Some people like vanilla ice cream. Some people like strawberry. You can’t go wrong. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
“I think it’s awesome and well-deserved,” said Angela Durossette, Bates’ head coach her senior and junior years of high school. “I’m definitely not surprised. If you follow (college) shortstops, you know who she is. She’s given girls around the country hope. If you work hard, dreams come true.”
“If you could make the perfect softball player, it would be Sis Bates,” said Mike Corsaut, who helped coached Bates at the varsity level her freshman year with the Bulldogs and was her U.S. History teacher at Mae Henley Jr. High in the eighth-grade. “She loves the game. She’s talented. She’s humble. She’s got a great personality. She always puts her teams first. You just knew she was going to accomplish whatever she set her mind to.”
“We got so many players that go on to be great,” Rico added. “Early on, we noticed Sis brought a high IQ and different style of play to the game. We knew she’d be special. But we didn’t know how special she’d be. It’s very rewarding to see all the hard work she put in paid off. It’s a good story for others to relate to and follow.”