Nicole “Sis” Bates was playing Wiffle ball with her friends in front of her mom’s house in Ceres when she received some encouraging news.
The NCAA Division I Council voted on March 30 to grant an extra year of eligibility to all spring athletes who had their seasons canceled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Schools will determine how much financial aid will be provided.
“I am so thankful us seniors have the freedom to go out on our own terms,” stated Bates, University of Washington’s All-American softball shortstop. “I miss my teammates and coaches so much. I can’t wait for us to all be back in Seattle together. With that being said, we’re trying to find a silver lining during these crazy times. Being home with my family has been a blessing in disguise.”
Bates and fellow former standout Stanislaus District high school softball players Mahlena O’Neal (Ceres High), Maddi Hackbarth (Oakdale) and Kindra Hackbarth (Oakdale) all plan to resume their college athletic careers next spring.
Bates batted .529 from the plate with one triple, five doubles, 17 runs and 12 RBIs through Washington’s first 25 games this spring. She had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on defense.
The second-ranked Huskies had an impressive 23-2 overall record prior to the 2020 season being canceled.
“It was a really scary time,” Bates stated in an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle. “I talked with coach (Heather Tarr) on and off and it was sounding like they were going to go the other way where we weren’t going to get another year of eligibility. That meeting with the NCAA took three hours. We were all so nervous the whole time. It finally came back and they did give us a year. We’re so thankful that happened. We’ve been waiting for this for two weeks now.”
O’Neal, a senior catcher, collected three homers, four doubles, eight RBIs and six runs through the University of Georgia’s first 28 games.
The No. 14 Bulldogs amassed a 23-5 record.
“I’m extremely happy the NCAA made the choice to allow student-athletes to have another year of eligibility,” O’Neal said. “I love the fact that I get to end my softball career on my terms and not have it taken away from me without a choice. I miss softball so much right now. Being home during this time makes me truly appreciate all that softball has done for me. I am bored out of my mind without it. What I miss the most is being around my teammates and always having people around me that make me laugh constantly. I miss playing with them and cheering.”
Maddi Hackbarth, a senior catcher, batted .350 with nine homers, one triple, nine doubles, 32 RBIs and 21 runs through Arizona State’s first 29 games.
The 15th-ranked Sun Devils posted a 22-7 record.
“I’m so excited I get to play one more year,” she said. “I had a smile on my face when I found out. It brightened my day. I’m very blessed, honored and appreciative I get to continue my legacy. I can’t wait until I get back out there.”Nicole "Sis" Bates
“I’m so excited I get to play one more year,” she said. “I had a smile on my face when I found out. It brightened my day. I’m very blessed, honored and appreciative I get to continue my legacy. I can’t wait until I get back out there.”
Kindra Hackbarth, Maddi’s twin sister and an outfielder with Arizona State, announced on Instagram on April 3 she was resuming her college softball career.
Kindra batted .443 with six homers, one triple, 11 doubles, 27 RBIs and 32 runs during the shortened spring season.
Sis, Mahlena, Maddi and Kindra all played for the Ceres-based 2009 Tri-County Smash 10-and-under travel softball team.