Ceres High School grad Nicole “Sis” Bates didn’t get to end her NCAA Division-I softball career on her own terms last year.
That’s one of the reasons she opted to return for a fifth and final season with the University of Washington this spring.
Bates was granted an extra year of eligibility after the 2020 campaign was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our goal is to win the national championship,” Bates said.
Bates garnered special recognition from USA Softball and D1Softball.com last week.
She was named to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Preseason Watch List on Jan. 27.
She was selected to D1Softball’s Preseason All-America First Team on Jan. 28.
This is the third straight year Bates has been named to the USA Softball’s Preseason Watch List.
“We’re lucky we get her for another year,” Huskies’ head coach Heather Tarr said. “She’s probably the best shortstop we’ve ever had. We’ve had Olympians. She’s good enough to make the National Team right now. She has a bright future ahead of her in whatever she ends up doing. I think she wants to coach.”
Bates currently ranks second among all players active in Division I in runs scored (172) and fourth in hits (245) heading into the 2021 season.
She ranks second in Washington history in career batting average (.384), 14th in runs scored and 15th in hits. Bates has reached base safely in 119 of 138 games.
Tarr expected Bates to develop into a great softball player because of her talent, skillset and work ethic.
Tarr didn’t expect Bates to reach legendary status.
She has become a fan favorite and role model during her time with the Huskies.
Using results from a fan poll, ESPN unveiled its Greatest All-Time Softball Team on June 9.
Bates received the most votes for shortstop.
“Getting ahold of someone like Sis is not easy,” Tarr said. “She’s a game-changer. We expected that from her. No one predicted she would become the sensation she is today. She’s as popular of an athlete there is in today’s sports world. She’s done a great job of not letting the success get in her way. She doesn’t want the attention. It’s awesome having someone like that representing our program with that stature.”
“It is incredible to really think about that,” Bates said while talking about her stardom. “I just remember growing up admiring Jenn Salling and Natasha Watley. I loved the passion they had for the game and their teammates and their confidence. I hope that I can emulate these same characteristics for young girls.”
Bates didn’t commit a single error during the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season as the Huskies compiled a 23-2 overall record and ranked second in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll.
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 two errors the past two seasons.
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.
“My coaches and teammates push me day in and day out,” she said. “Without them, none of this would be possible. I know that no matter what happens, they will always have my back on and off the field.”
Bates remained dedicated to her craft during coronavirus isolation.
“I am someone that thrives in structure and routine,” Bates said. “Knowing this, it was important for me to have somewhat of a busy schedule even though I was home. I would get up around 8:30 every morning to work out and do homework. I would also do some arm care throughout the day and train as much as possible with my brother and parents.”
Bates will continue to build on her legacy this spring.
Bates graduated from Washington on June 12.
She earned a sociology degree.
Bates had a perfect 4.0 GPA her last semester.
Bates was a four-year standout at Ceres High School.
She was voted 2016 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Softball State and Medium Schools Player of the Year.
The two-time FloSoftball First-Team All-American was selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Super Elite First Team and All-State Medium Schools First Team.
In 114 career games, Bates 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.
She had an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.356.
Bates filled a major role in leading the Bulldogs to 85 victories, one section championship, three WAC titles and four playoff appearances from 2013-2016.