Nicole “Sis” Bates’ softball career spanned five seasons at the University of Washington and was filled with countless highlights.
The 2016 Ceres High School grad suited up for the Huskies for the final time in May at the Super Regionals of the NCAA Division-I National Championship Tournament.
Bates, a standout hitter and shortstop, lined a two-strike, two-out single to centerfield in her last at-bat as 16th-seeded Washington (45-14) closed out the 2021 season with a 9-1 loss to eventual-national champion Oklahoma (56-4) in Norman.
The Huskies finished 10th overall in the USA Today/ National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Poll.
“Thank you husky nation, for the best 5 years of my life,” Bates wrote in a post shared on Instagram. “Forever indebted to this program, these people, and this sport. Thank you for creating lifelong friendships and providing me with memories that I will cherish forever. Excited for what’s to come for this beautiful sport I love so so dearly. Go dawgs forever!”
Bates established herself as one of college’s elite players during her time at Washington.
She’ll serve as a graduate assistant coach with the Huskies this upcoming season.
“Getting ahold of someone like Sis is not easy,” Huskies head coach Heather 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. She prefers to lead by example. She’s one of the nicest people.”
“I’ve never allowed myself to think of her as one of the best,” John Bates said while talking about his daughter. “She’s just my kid. She’s Nicole, not Sis.”
Bates was a fan favorite because of her positive attitude, personality and talent. She has over 76,000 followers on Instagram.
“It is incredible to really think about that,” Sis Bates said while being interviewed by the Courier earlier this year. “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.”
Added John Bates: “She’s a great ambassador for the game.”
Bates became Washington’s all-time hits leader during her final season.
She collected 320 hits in 261 career games.
She also ranks first in triples (18), third in runs (227), fourth in batting average (.385) and fifth in doubles (54) in program history.
She had on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages of .450, .526 and .976, respectively.
Bates became just the second player in Pac-12 history to win the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award three times.
Bates totaled just seven errors dating back to the start of the 2019 campaign, which covered a span of 135 games. Her career fielding percentage of .980 is the second-highest mark for any middle infielder in Washington history.
Bates batted .389 from the plate in 2021 with one homer, five triples, 12 doubles, 32 RBIs, 55 runs and 21 stolen bases.
She led the Pac-12 in hits with 75.
Bates started the year a perfect 18-for-18 on stolen bases.
Bates also made history this year by becoming just the fifth hitter from Washington to earn NFCA All-American honors for a third time.
She was selected to the NFCA Second Team.
She was a first-team pick in 2019 and 2018.
Bates was a Top-10 finalist for 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
She was named Washington’s 2020-21 Pac-12 Tom Hansen Conference Medal recipient for Outstanding Female Student-Athlete.
She made the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll in 2020 and earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention recognition in 2019.
She won the 2019 Seattle Female Sports Star of the Year award.
She was voted best shortstop on ESPN’s Greatest All-Time Softball Team via a fan poll in 2019.
Bates earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in educational leadership and policy studies with a 3.92 grade-point average.
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 2017-2021.
The Huskies had a 23-2 overall record and ranked first in the NFCA/USA Today poll when 2020 collegiate spring sports were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“My coaches and teammates push me day in and day out,” Sis Bates 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.”
“Each place she’s been, she’s been able to separate herself,” John Bates said. “It shouldn’t surprise me but it does every time it happens.”
Bates will play professional softball in the Athletes Unlimited League this fall.
She was drafted on May 10.
The inaugural Athletes Unlimited Softball Draft Class included Bates, Rachel Garcia (UCLA), Giselle Juarez (Oklahoma), Shannon Rhodes (Texas), Dejah Mulipola (Arizona), Amber Fiser (Minnesota), Jessie Harper (Arizona), Ciara Bryan (Louisiana Lafayette), Sami Williams (Iowa State), Aliyah Andrews (LSU), Carrie Eberle (Oklahoma State) and Alyssa Denham (Arizona).
The season will be held, Aug. 28-Sept. 27, at the Parkway Bank Complex in Rosemont Ill.
Athletes Unlimited is a player-centered sports organization with teams being re-drafted by player captains every week and a scoring system for both teams and players.
Bates signed with the Players Collxctive sports agency in July.
“We understand how blessed she’s been,” John Bates said. “It’s been a great ride. I never dreamed about these things happening. For her, it won’t sink in until she’s 5-10 years out of the game.”
“She’s an inspiration,” Tarr stated. “She’s everyone’s hometown hero.”
“Her plan is to play as long as her heart and body will allow,” John Bates added.
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 (PGF) 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 senior year with the Bulldogs.
She made just one error on defense.
Led by Bates, Ceres High collected 85 wins, claimed one Sac-Joaquin Section championship, captured three Western Athletic Conference crowns and appeared in the playoffs four times.
Bates won the 18-and-under PGF National Championship with the Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers-Rico team in 2016.
“It’s been exciting to watch her journey,” said Tony Rico, Bates’ head coach for three seasons at the travel level. “She plays the game in a way that draws you in. She plays the game with a high IQ. She inspires people that watch her. She never wants to stand out above her teammates. I give her a lot of credit for that. There’s a fine line between arrogance and humility. And Sis is on the right side of the line.”
“A lot of credit for who she (Sis) is comes from him (Tony),” John Bates said. “He taught her how to be a pro and showman.”