Using results from a fan poll, ESPN unveiled its Greatest All-Time Softball Team on June 9.
Ceres High School grad/University of Washington star Nicole “Sis” Bates received the most votes for shortstop.
“Wow,” said John Bates, Sis’ father. “I’m at a loss for words. It’s unreal.”
Bates (37.21%) beat out Natasha Watley (UCLA, 19.92%), Dot Richardson (UCLA, 16.76%), Laura Espinoza (Arizona, 7.58%), Ashley Hansen (Stanford, 5.25%), Madison Shipman (Tennessee, 5.00%), Jessie Harper (Arizona, 4.56%) and Delaney Spaulding (UCLA, 3.73%).
Bates played for Watley, who was an assistant coach for the 2017 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team.
She met Richardson at the age of 12 while competing in a travel tournament in Fresno.
“When I first found out I won the ESPN award, I was in shock."Nicole Bates
“When I first found out I won the ESPN award, I was in shock,” said Bates, who didn’t expect to receive the honor. “It was so incredible to even be up for this award with women that I have looked up to since I was a young girl.”
“It’s awesome she’s thought of in that way,” John Bates said. “It’s awesome for Washington’s program. She’s looked up to people on the list. None of these things would be happening if she wasn’t on a good team.”
ESPN used a fan poll to determine its greatest all-time college softball team.
Contributors from 7Innings Softball Podcast selected eight finalists for each position.
Voting for shortstop began on May 29 and ended on May 31.
Mike Corsaut, Bates’ coach at the varsity level her freshman year with the Bulldogs and her U.S. History teacher at Mae Hensley Jr. High in the eighth grade, voted once.
“It’s pretty cool,” Corsaut said. “The world sees how good she is. I’m so excited for her. It’s an awesome recognition. She’s an inspiration to others. She plays the game the right way. She has fun. She brings so much to the sport. Girls and parents absolutely love her.”
The fan poll closed before Angela Durossette, Bates’ head coach her senior and junior years of high school, could cast a vote.
“I just saw it (results) on Instagram,” Durossette said. “I’m really happy for Sis. I’m not surprised. Defensively, I haven’t seen many better than her. A lot of it has to do with her work ethic. She always wanted to be the best.”
“I’m proud of her,” John Bates said. “She’s humble. She works hard. Her biggest asset is she and (former Washington teammate) Taylor Van Zee were the first players of this era to show that it’s okay to smile and have fun.”
A first-team All-American two times and the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and sophomore, Bates has committed 11 errors during her career. She’s made just two 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.
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.
“Her focus hasn’t changed,” John Bates said. “She’s trying to get better and lead her team to a national championship. She hasn’t written her last chapter yet.”
“I’m grateful for this beautiful sport and the relationships that have been built because of it,” Sis Bates said.