Ceres High School grad Nicole “Sis” Bates has been named Softball America’s NCAA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2021 college campaign.
Bates became just the second player in Pac-12 history to win the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award three times this past season while starring at shortstop at the University of Washington.
“She’s probably the best shortstop we’ve ever had,” said Heather Tarr, who’s amassed a career record of 636–244–1 as head coach of the Huskies since returning to her alma mater in 2005. “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.”
Bates, a UW grad student, 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 in Washington history.
Bates also made history this year by becoming just the fifth hitter from Washington to earn National Fastpitch Coaches Association (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 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
Bates became Washington’s all-time hits leader this past season with 320 in 261 career games.
Sarah Pickering (1994-97) held the previous record (318).
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 batted .385 with nine homers, 18 triples, 54 doubles, 145 RBIs, 227 runs and 49 stolen bases in 261 career games.
She had on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages of .450, .526 and .976, respectively.
She had a career fielding percentage of .980.
Bates ranks first in triples, third in runs, fourth in batting average and fifth in doubles in program history.
“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.”
Bates will play professional softball in the Athletes Unlimited League this summer.
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 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.