The watch list for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year has been narrowed down to 10 finalists. University of Washington graduate student shortstop/2016 Ceres High School grad Nicole “Sis” Bates is in the running for the award.
Her name is up along with Huskies’ teammates Gabbie Plain, UCLA’s Rachel Garcia, Clemson’s Valerie Cagle, Kentucky’s Kayla Kowalik, Oklahoma State’s Carrie Eberle, Oklahoma’s Jocelyn Alo and Tiare Jennings, and Arkansas’ Braxton Burnside and Mary Haff.
“No one predicted she would become the sensation she is today,” Huskies’ head coach Heather Tarr stated. “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. She prefers to lead by example. She’s one of the nicest people.”
“My coaches and teammates push me day in and day out,” Bates said while talking about her success during an interview with The Courier earlier this year. “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.”
This is the first time a University of Washington player has been named a top-10 finalist since 2010, when pitcher Danielle Lawrie earned her second consecutive Player of the Year award. Lawrie is the only Husky ever to earn the national Player of the Year award, doing so in 2009 and 2010.
Bates has been among the final 25 candidates for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year each of the last three years.
Earlier this year, Bates became just the third Husky ever to collect 300-plus hits in their career and now has 303 in her career, just 15 away from the all-time Husky record.
Bates ranks first in the Pac-12 this season in runs scored (47), second in hits (58), triples (5) and stolen bases (18), and third in batting average (.403).
She’s had 17 multi-hit games.
Defensively, the two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year has played every inning of every game at shortstop for Washington this season.
She has made just three errors in 124 chances.
Bates also started the year a perfect 18-for-18 on stolen bases, setting a new career high in steals.
Bates decided to return for a fifth and final season with the Huskies after having her 2020 campaign cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re lucky we get her for another year,” 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.”
The NCAA granted all student-athletes impacted by COVID-19 last spring an extra year of eligibility.
The candidates for Collegiate Player of the Year will be whittled down to three on May 19. The winner of the award will be announced on June 1 at the Women’s College World Series.
Bates has also been named one of the 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award.
The Senior CLASS Award is given out each year to the senior who best exemplifies a commitment to excellence in the community, classroom, character, and competition.
Voting for the award is open to the public until May 24 online.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced in June.
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.
Bates and 10 other elite players from across the nation were named to the Louisville Slugger Hit Club.
She also participated in the Premier Girls Fastpitch High School All-American Game.
Bates batted .571 from the plate with five homers, four triples, nine doubles, 33 RBIs, 45 runs and 14 stolen bases while striking out just five times in 113 plate appearances during her final season with the Bulldogs.
She made just one error on defense.
Bates filled a major role in leading Ceres High to 85 victories, one section championship, three WAC titles and four playoff appearances from 2013-2016.