Nicole “Sis” Bates’ fan base consists of people of all ages and spans all states.
The Ceres High School grad has developed into one of the top shortstops in NCAA Division-I softball history since joining the University of Washington program in 2017.
Ohio residents Billy Cooper and Ricky Bumgardner Jr. had custom No. 22 Sis Bates jerseys made for their daughters for Christmas.
Billy shared photos and a video on Facebook of Hailey Cooper (11) and Mahaylee Bumgardner (10) opening their gifts on Dec. 22.
“They were stunned,” Billy stated. “They thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I don’t think Hailey has taken the jersey off since last Tuesday. It’s the best Christmas present she has gotten in her life. Those are her words.”
Bates couldn’t be reached for comment for this article.
“You never think about this stuff happening with your kids,” said John Bates, Nicole’s father. “It’s so humbling when you see something like that. They’re fans. The biggest thing is the connection to the next generation of softball players.”
Hailey plays shortstop for the Ohio United 12-and-under travel softball team.
Mahaylee plays second base for the organization’s 10-and-under squad.
“Growing up, Michael Jordan was my hero,” Billy said. “I studied everything he did on the court. Sis Bates is Michael Jordan to these girls. Hailey copies everything she does (even down to the licking of her batting gloves).”
Hailey became a fan of Bates and Washington softball two-plus years ago.
“We live in Ohio,” Billy said. “The reach Sis Bates has is insane. You know someone is special when they can affect a kid 3,000 miles away by the way they carry themselves on the field. Sis is always smiling and picking her teammates up. Hailey has become a better teammate by watching her interviews and games.”
Bates was voted best shortstop on ESPN’s Greatest All-Time Softball Team via a fan poll on June 9.
She didn’t commit a single error during the 2020 COVID-19 shortened spring season.
She totaled 18 putouts and 33 assists in 15 games.
A first-team All-American two times and the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and sophomore, Bates has made just two errors the past two seasons.
Bates has collected 245 hits, eight homers, 13 triples, 42 doubles, 113 RBIs and 172 runs in 202 career games.