Ceres Youth Baseball & Softball Organization alumni Nicole “Sis” Bates, Maddi Hackbarth and Kindra Hackbarth had high hopes for their senior campaigns last spring.
Excitement turned to disappointment for the NCAA Division-I softball standouts after the 2020 season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sis (University of Washington), Maddi (Arizona State) and Kindra (Arizona State) competed for the first time in over 11 months this past week with their respective college teams.
The NCAA Division-I Council voted on March 30 to give an extra year of eligibility to student-athletes impacted by COVID-19.
“Woke up with a smile on my face and a very, very blessed soul,” Maddi stated on Twitter leading up to the Sun Devils’ season-opening game. “Thank you God for today and every day.”
Bates helped lead Washington to a perfect 5-0 record at the UNLV Classic in Las Vegas.
She batted .500 from the plate with two doubles, eight singles, five RBIs, 10 runs, six walks, three stolen bases and no strikeouts.
The Huskies topped Dixie State (7-0) on Sunday, UNLV (8-2) and Southern Utah (19-13) on Saturday, and Dixie State (6-5) and Southern Utah (8-0) on Friday.
Maddi batted .583 from the plate with two homers, two doubles, six RBIs, five runs and one stolen base as host Arizona State topped all four of its opponents at the Kajikawa Classic at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium.
Kindra collected two doubles, one single, one RBI, three runs and one stolen base.
The Sun Devils defeated University of Utah 9-4 on Saturday and Seattle University 9-1 on Friday.
Arizona State swept Brigham Young University on Feb. 11. The Sun Devils prevailed 7-2 and 7-5.
Sis, Kindra and Maddi were named to Softball America’s Preseason All-American list for Division-I college players on Feb. 8.
Sis and Kindra were selected to the First Team.
Maddi, Kindra’s twin sister, was a third-team pick.
Kindra, Sis, and Maddi ranked fourth, sixth and 52nd, respectively, on Softball America’s Preseason College Top 100 list on Jan. 5.
Bates, a 2016 Ceres High School grad, batted .529 from the plate with one triple, five doubles, 17 runs and 12 RBIs through Washington’s first 25 games last spring. She posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at shortstop.
The Huskies had an impressive 23-2 overall record and ranked second in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll prior to the 2020 season being canceled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Bates was sidelined for 10 games with a concussion.
Using results from a fan poll, Bates received the most votes for shortstop when ESPN unveiled its Greatest All-Time Softball Team on June 9.
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%).
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.
She has collected 245 hits, eight homers, 13 triples, 42 doubles, 113 RBIs and 172 runs in 202 career games.
Bates has helped lead Washington to three trips to the NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series, including a finals appearance in 2018.
She was a four-year standout at Ceres High School.
Bates 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.
Led by the Hackbarth sisters, Arizona State posted a 22-7 record and ranked 15th in the nation a year ago.
Kindra, an outfielder, batted .443 with six homers, one triple, 11 doubles, 27 RBIs and 32 runs during the COVID-19 shortened season. She had a breakout year as a junior in 2019, batting .412 with 17 homers, two triples, 18 doubles, 57 RBIs and 67 runs.
Maddi, a catcher, batted .350 with nine homers, one triple, nine doubles, 32 RBIs and 21 runs this past year. She finished with 19 homers, two doubles, 53 RBIs and 34 runs as a junior.
Kindra and Maddi both graduated from Oakdale High School in 2016.
Sis, Kindra and Maddi suited up for Donnie Donaldson’s 10-and-under Ceres-based Tri-County Smash softball team in 2009. They reunited at the 2018 NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series.
“Looking back, it was very special,” Donaldson said. “It was an incredible group of girls we put together. They were just kids. We didn’t know what we were coaching until they started receiving (college) offers. Their work ethic and softball IQ put them above everyone else. They were very mature for their age. They loved the game.”
“They still talk,” he added. “They’re still friends.”