Sis Bates’ fan base has grown exponentially since she stepped foot on campus at the University of Washington in 2016.
A standout softball player with the Huskies, the Ceres High School grad has more than 69,000 followers on Instagram.
Bates has gained more than 40,000 followers since May when the Huskies made their third straight appearance in the NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series.
“She could tell when she had a good game because she’d get a bunch of new followers on social media,” said John Bates, Sis’ father.
It’s easy to root for a player like Bates, an All-American shortstop.
She’s garnered national media attention for her bubbly personality, competitiveness and talent.
“Softball has always been my happy place so it is pretty easy to have a good time and smile when you are having so much fun with people you love,” Sis Bates said.
“I wish there was a meter you could measure competitiveness,” John Bates said. “She’d be off the charts. Winning means everything to her. She’d rather win instead of going 4-for-4. A bunch of their girls are wired that way.”
Former coaches Donnie Donaldson and Mike Baisdon are not surprised to see Bates excel at such a high level.
Donaldson and Baisdon coached Bates for two seasons at Ceres High.
Baisdon was also Bates’ travel ball coach with the Tri-County Smash and NorCal Firecrackers for a combined five years.
“Sis was special from the get-go,” Baisdon said. “She’s worked so hard her whole life. She’s super competitive. Defensively, there’s nobody better than Sis in the country. Her ability to process things in micro seconds is not normal. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
“If I was the best pitcher in the country, I’d want to play one year with Sis Bates,” Donaldson said. “For a kid to make just two errors all year at that level, it’s unreal. The kid is unbelievable. She doesn’t like to lose. She’s competitive in everything. She smiles more than anyone I’ve ever seen on a softball field. She’s having as much fun now as she did when she was 10. She absolutely loves the game.”
During Media Day at the 2019 NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series, Bates was interviewed by ESPN reporter Holly Rowe.
Rowe posted the question-and-answer segment on her Twitter.
She gave Bates a nickname, “Sistomatic,” for her defensive prowess.
Bates also had a University of Washington sports fan name their Husky dog after her. The Twitter post was shared by @kelsss206 on May 27.
“I am just so thankful that this sport has provided me with these opportunities,” she said.
Bates batted .387 from the plate this past spring with three triples, 11 doubles, 77 hits, 30 RBIs and 60 runs, 10 stolen bases in 61 games.
She was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.
She earned Pac-12 All-Academic honorable-mention accolades for the second consecutive year.
She was also voted a National Fastpitch Coaches Association First-Team All-American for the second year in a row.
Bates had a .988 fielding percentage. She committed just two errors.
Washington posted a 52-9 overall record, advanced to the semifinals of the WCWS and tied for first in the Pac-12 standings (20-4).
Bates attended the 2020 U.S. Women’s National Team Olympic Selection Trials this past October in Oklahoma City.
In December, Bates was nominated by the Seattle Sports Commission for the MTRWestern Female Sports Star of the Year honor for the second year in a row.
“People don’t understand how special it is,” John Bates said while talking about Sis’ journey from the fields at George Costa Ball Field Complex in Ceres to stardom at the national level. “I’m really proud of the way she handles herself. She’s a professional. She was taught that young in her travel ball days and at the University of Washington.”
“I think Sis’ success can best be attributed to a highly-competitive spirit and hours and hours of intent-willed work,” brother Jimmy Bates said. “I can think back to times of us being together taking ground balls in the Dempsey Indoor Facility, and she had a ball kick off of her glove. She would then ask me to try and replicate that ground ball multiple times until she felt comfortable that that would never happen again. I think that her willingness to put in these extra hours and do so with a specific goal in mind is the difference in her game.”
Bates stepped out of her comfort zone her sophomore year in high school when she joined the Huntington Beach-based Rico Firecrackers competitive softball team.
Bates helped the 2016 team win the Premier Girls Fastpitch 18-and-under national championship.
“When she made the decision to go to Southern California to play for Tony Rico and give up her weekends, she was all in,” said John, who logged thousands of miles on Highway 99 while driving Sis to practice on Sundays for three straight summers. “She wanted to become the best player she could be.”
“That changed her,” Donaldson added.
Bates became a Washington softball fan in 2009, the year the Huskies won the national championship.
Now, she’s considered one of the program’s all-time greatest players.
“It’s been a perfect place to nurture what was already in Nicole’s fiber,” John Bates said. “Everything is competitive. They have hitting, fielding and academic challenges. Coach (Heather) Tarr is really good at getting the best out of them.”
Bates has become a role model for the next generation of softball players.
She routinely signs autographs for fans.
“She has a responsibility to so many young athletes,” Baisdon said. “She understands that.”
“She’s really good with the kids and working the crowd,” John Bates said. “She knows you have to give back to get this sport to grow.”
Bates and her 2019 Washington teammates were presented Pac-12 championship rings during a special ceremony at halftime of a Huskies’ football game against Utah on Nov. 2.
“I don’t think she’ll realize how blessed she is until she’s out of school 5-10 years from now,” John Bates said.
Bates and the Huskies will play 10 teams that made the 2019 NCAA Tournament during non-conference play this upcoming season.
They’ll face Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida State, Northwestern, LSU, Texas, Texas Tech, Michigan and Cal State Fullerton.
Washington will begin defense of its conference title in March.
The Huskies will be featured 18 times on the Pac-12 Network.
Bates’ teams from the past three seasons had a combined record of 103-13.
“It’s gotten to a point even if I told somebody she was my daughter they wouldn’t believe it,” John said. “She’s made her mark in the game.”
Bates could compete at the professional level in the United States or Japan after wrapping up her college career.
“If she was a man playing baseball, she’d be a No. 1 draft pick and a millionaire,” John Bates said.
“I hope she plays softball as long as her heart is still in it,” he added. “The real world will be waiting for her when she’s done.”