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Bates named to Louisville Slugger Hit Club
Ceres Nicole Bates and nine other elite hitters from across the nation were selected to the Louisville Slugger Hit Club earlier this month. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Courier

Nicole Bates joined elite company by being selected to the Louisville Slugger Hit Club last week.

FloSoftball made the announcement on its website on July 18.

"It's really exciting news," said Nicole, who wrapped up her four-year career with Ceres High School's varsity softball program in May. "It's a huge honor. I never thought anything like this would happen. I couldn't have done it without my team. We performed so well."

Bates and nine other elite hitters from across the nation headed to NCAA Division-I schools were selected to the Hit Club, which was established in 2015.

"I was really surprised and excited when my dad told me," said Bates, a University of Washington signee. "It's nice to see my hard work pay off."

"It's quite an honor," said John Bates, Nicole's father.

The inaugural class featured Cherish Burks (Oregon), Reagan Dykes (Alabama), Morganne Flores (Washington), Shay Knighten (Oklahoma), Aubrey Leach (Tennessee), Amanda Lorenz (Florida), Lily Mann (Florida), Tannon Snow (Washington), Alex Sobczak (Michigan) and Brooke Vines (Tennessee).

Knighten scored once as Oklahoma edged Auburn 2-1 in a winner-take-all game for the 2016 national championship.

She was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Second Team.

Shay posted a batting average of .397 with 13 homers, 10 doubles, 62 RBIs, 48 runs and nine stolen bases.

Lorenz was voted NFCA Freshman of the Year.

Amanda batted .403 with eight homers, one triple, 14 doubles, 48 RBIs, 56 runs and 10 stolen bases her first season with the Gators.

Hit Club members are picked from a pool of players chosen as Premier Girls Fastpitch All-Americans.

Nicole filled out a questionnaire and her responses were posted online at
"My advice to young players is that failure is a huge part of the game and no one is perfect," she stated. "If you make a mistake, shake it off and you will definitely get another opportunity."

The 2016 Hit Club will gather in Huntington Beach for three days of instruction and fun activities, July 30 to Aug. 1.

Bates and Co. will receive advice and coaching from Sue Enquist, and Jen Schroeder and her team from The Package Deal.

They will also take part in a six-event competition.

Awards will be given out the final day.

"I'm super excited," Nicole said.

Bates filled a major role while leading Ceres High's varsity softball program to 85 victories, one section championship, three Western Athletic Conference titles and four playoff appearances from 2013-2016.

She batted .571 with five homers, four triples, nine doubles, 33 RBIs, 45 runs and 14 stolen bases during her final season with the Bulldogs.

Ceres High posted a 23-5 overall record and won 11 of 12 games on its way to a first-place finish in the 2016 WAC standings.

The Bulldogs claimed their second section title, ending a 21-year drought between championships.

Bates was named to the MaxPreps Medium Schools All-American First Team on July 19.

She was selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Super Elite First Team on July 14.
Nicole was also highlighted as one of the best athletes during the 2015-16 school year in the July Sac-Joaquin Section Edition of SportStars Magazine.

"She works hard and loves the game," John Bates said. "Without the team success, she'd just be one of those kids with great numbers."