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Softball America recognizes Tri-County Smash alumni
Bates ball hold
Nicole “Sis” Bates (pictured) and former Ceres-based Tri-County Smash 10-and-under travel softball teammates Kindra and Maddi Hackbarth were recognized by Softball America last week.

Recognition keeps pouring in for former Ceres-based Tr-County Smash 10-and-under travel softball teammates Nicole “Sis” Bates, Kindra Hackbarth and Maddi Hackbarth.

Standouts at the NCAA Division-I college level, Sis (University of Washington), Kindra (Arizona State) and Maddi (Arizona State) were singled out by Softball America last week.

Editorial staff writer Nathan Hiatt’s online article highlighted five super senior players to keep an eye on during their extra season of softball in 2021, including Sis (shortstop), Kindra (outfielder), Arizona’s Jessie Harper (shortstop), Oklahoma State’s Alysen Febrey (first baseman) and Oregon’s Haley Cruse (outfielder).

The NCAA D1 Council voted on March 30 to grant an extra year of eligibility to all spring athletes who had their 2020 seasons canceled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Maddi (catcher) was listed as an honorable-mention selection, along with Oklahoma State’s Carrie Eberle (pitcher), Minnesota’s Amber Fister (pitcher), Florida’s Kendyl Lindaman (first baseman) and Alabama’s Bailey Hemphill (first baseman).

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 on defense.

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.

“Sis Bates has become arguably the most popular player in college softball,” Hiatt said. “As a Husky, she has blossomed into a superstar and a recognizable name in the sport. Although she is known for highlight-reel defensive plays, Bates has a proven bat with eight home runs and 113 RBI in her career at Washington. She was also the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior. In the shortened season, as well, Bates had a .529 batting average.”

Led by the Hackbarth sisters, Arizona State posted a 22-7 record and ranked 15th in the nation a year ago.

Kindra and Maddi both graduated from Oakdale High School in 2016.

“Kindra Hackbarth has continued to improve every season she has been at Arizona State,” Hiatt said. “She had a breakout season as a junior in 2019 with a .412 batting average, 17 home runs and 57 RBI. In the shortened 2020 season, Hackbarth continued to show out with a .443 batting average, six home runs and 27 RBI.”

“Maddi Hackbarth, her twin, had a similar breakthrough as a junior with 19 home runs and 53 RBI and, then, nine home runs and 32 RBI in the shortened season,” he added.

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

Bates has been friends with the Hackbarth sisters for most of her life. 

They played T-ball together in Ceres’ recreational league.

“I wear 22 because of Sis Bates,” Kindra said to Softball America’s Brady Vernon when he gathered comments from Bates’ current and past teammates for a May 28 article. “She’s an inspiration. I want to be as good as a person as her because she gives back to her community and to everything. It’s Sis, there’s no one that’s like her.”

“Sis Bates is someone I look up to on and off the field,” Maddi stated to Vernon. “She’s an incredible person, just an amazing athlete, always has great energy and a positive attitude. The little kids look up to her … Even though we’re not on the same team, she’s a sister to me and I’ll love her for the rest of my life.”