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Bates shares journey
Nicole Bates 2022
Nicole Bates

Nicole “Sis” Bates was featured in the latest edition of “Athletes Unlimited Presents: On The Roster” this past week.

The 2016 Ceres High School grad/three-time All-American shortstop at the University of Washington shared her journey as a softball player during the eight-plus minute interview, which was posted on YouTube on Aug. 10.

“Hearing my name get drafted to AU (Athletes Unlimited), I get emotional,” Bates said. “It’s such an important part of my life. It was the coolest thing ever because who gets to play professional softball.”

“Honestly, playing professionally was never a big dream of mine,” she added. “I didn’t even know I could do it. Even when I walked up and saw my locker, I was like wow, this is really happening. I kind of maybe had some imposter syndrome. Maybe I don’t belong here. I worked really hard to be here.”

“Her ride has been pretty special,” said John Bates, Sis’ father. “She’s stayed humble When she comes home, you really wouldn’t know she played or did anything special. She’s just a normal person.”

Bates finished ninth in the individual standings during her rookie year in the Athletes Unlimited league in 2021.

She batted .326 with five doubles, one triple, one RBI, six runs, one walk and one stolen base in 15 games.

“I was sitting at home watching this last year and idolizing these women,” Bates said. “Now, I’m playing with them. I’m really grateful to be where I am.”

“The person Sis is, is who you see on the field,” said Cat Osterman, a three-time Olympic medalist, four-time All-American and three-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year who competed in the first two seasons of Athletes Unlimited. “Her energy is infectious. She loves the games. She loves what she’s doing. She truly loves to connect with the people whether you’re playing with or against her. I have the utmost respect for her and she’s going to be incredible for this game as well.”

Bates starred on Ceres High’s softball team for four seasons prior to making a name for herself at the University of Washington (2017-21).

She became the Huskies’ all-time hits leader during her final season.

She collected 320 hits in 261 career games.

She ranks first in triples (18), third in runs (227), fourth in batting average (.385) and fifth in doubles (54) in program history.

Bates became just the second player in Pac-12 history to win the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award three times.

Her career fielding percentage of .980 is the second-highest mark for any middle infielder in Washington history.

Bates also made history in 2021 by becoming just the fifth hitter from Washington to earn NFCA All-American honors for a third time.

She was voted best shortstop on ESPN’s Greatest All-Time Softball Team via a fan poll in 2019.

Bates filled a major role in leading Washington to 222 victories, three trips to the Women’s College World Series—including one finals berth—and one Pac-12 regular-season title.

“From a young age, I knew I wanted to go to Washington,” Bates said. “I watched them win (the National Championship) in 2009, and I was like dad, I want to go there.”

“She was adamant,” John said. “I didn’t even think that was a shot.”

A household name in the softball world, Bates enjoys interacting with fans at games. She routinely signs autographs.

“I think the Lord has called me to give to others and bring others joy,” Bates said. “I want to make people smile. I want to be that constant energy for someone. I hope people remember me as a really good teammate that is always the same no matter what.”

Bates has no plans to retire soon. 

“I’m so passionate about softball and about the people I play with it,” she said. “To me, as long as I’m still loving it, and my body still allows me to play, I want to play as long as I can.”

“I’m so grateful to be in this position,” she added.

Bates way back
Nicole “Sis” Bates starred on Ceres High’s softball team for four seasons. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo