Softball America released its list of the top 100 college players for the 2021 season.
Ceres High School grad/University of Washington shortstop Nicole “Sis” Bates landed in the No. 6 spot.
Rachel Garcia (UCLA), Miranda Elish (Texas), Jessica Harper (Arizona), Kindra Hackbarth (Arizona State) and Gabbie Plain (Washington) ranked first, second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Bates and Hackbarth played softball together with the Ceres-based Tri-County Smash as youngsters.
“I don’t look at myself as one of the best,” Bates stated in an April 22 interview with NCAA Digital Reporter Michella Chester. “I just want to keep competing and getting a little bit better every day. Coach (Heather) Tarr is big on being the best versions of ourselves that we can be at the University of Washington.”
“I wear 22 because of Sis Bates,” Hackbarth stated in a May 28 interview with Softball America’s Brady Vernon. “She’s an inspiration. I want to be as good as a person as her because she gives back to her community and to everything. It’s Sis, there’s no one that’s like her. You hear the name Sis, you think of her and you get a smile on your face. She’s awesome. It’s hard to describe her because she’s such a good person.”
Bates has developed into one of the top players in NCAA Division-I softball history.
She was voted best shortstop on ESPN’s Greatest All-Time Softball Team via a fan poll on June 9.
She didn’t commit a single error during the 2020 COVID-19 shortened spring season.
She totaled 18 putouts and 33 assists in 15 games.
A first-team All-American two times and the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and sophomore, Bates has made just 11 errors during her career. She committed just two the past two seasons.
“Softball is so fun. I love it so deeply. People make fun of me for it.”Nicole Bates
“Softball is so fun,” she said. “I love it so deeply. People make fun of me for it.”
Bates has collected 245 hits, eight homers, 13 triples, 42 doubles, 113 RBIs and 172 runs in 202 career games.
She’s helped lead Washington to three trips to the NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series, including a finals appearance in 2018.
“I’m around people that make me better every day,” Bates said.
Bates will return for a fifth and final season with the Huskies in 2021.
She was granted an extra year of eligibility after the 2020 spring campaign was cut short due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m just so thankful that I’m able to play the game I love with the people I love,” Bates stated in a July 2 interview with Huskies teammate Brooke Nelson.
“Winning a national championship has always been a goal,” she added. “I would love to play in the Olympics.”
Bates graduated from Washington on June 12.
She earned a sociology degree.
Bates had a perfect 4.0 GPA her last semester
She will follow in older brother Jimmy’s footsteps by enrolling in the college’s Leadership & Higher Education Master’s Program.
Jimmy currently teaches eighth-grade math at Cesar Chavez Jr. High in Ceres.
“As long as I’m happy doing what I’m going to do for the rest of my life, that’s all that I’m worried about,” Bates said. “Ideally, I would love to stay in softball. I’m not quite sure what I want to do yet. I’ll figure it out.”