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Softball America honors Smash alumni
• Washington shortstop Bates named to preseason All-American first team
Bates and former Tri-County Smash teammates
Nicole “Sis” Bates and former Tri-County Smash teammates Bubba Nickles, Kindra Hackbarth and Maddi Hackbarth were recognized by Softball America last week.

Former Ceres-based Tri-County Smash 10-and-under travel softball teammates Nicole “Sis” Bates, Bubba Nickles, Kindra Hackbarth and Maddi Hackbarth were named to Softball America’s Preseason All-American list for Division-I college players on Monday.

Bates (Washington), Bubba (UCLA) and Kindra (Arizona State) were selected to the First Team.

Maddi (Arizona State), Kindra’s twin sister, was a third-team pick.

Kindra, Sis, Bubba and Maddi ranked fourth, sixth, 18th and 52nd, respectively, on Softball America’s Preseason College Top 100 list on Jan. 5.

“I think it’s awesome to see kids from our area have that type of success,” Smash founder/coach Donnie Donaldson said. “I can see all four of those girls going pro. I don’t see why they wouldn’t.”

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.

Nickles (outfielder) redshirted last spring at UCLA after being named to the United States Softball Olympic Team. 

The Bruins amassed a 25-1 record and climbed to No. 1 in the national rankings before the 2020 campaign got canceled because of COVID-19.

Nickles helped lead UCLA to the NCAA national championship in 2019. 

She batted .390 on the season with 18 home runs, 12 doubles, 72 RBIs, 66 runs, 24 walks and six stolen bases. She had slugging and on-base percentages of .714 and .458, respectively.

Nickles graduated from Merced High School in 2016.

Sis, Kindra, Maddi and Bubba suited up for Donaldson’s 10-and-under Smash team in 2009. They reunited at the 2018 NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series.

“Looking back, it was very special,” said Donaldson, who also coached Bates for two seasons at Ceres High School. “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.”

Hackbarth sisters, Kindra and Maddi
The Hackbarth sisters, Kindra and Maddi, will conclude their college softball careers at Arizona State this spring. Kindra and Maddi were selected to Softball America’s Preseason All-American Team this past week.