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Softball sensation
• Bates receives high praise from Washington head coach
Nicole “Sis” Bates made no errors while starring at shortstop during the University of Washington softball team’s COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. - photo by Courtesy of UW Athletics

Head coach Heather Tarr expected Nicole “Sis” Bates to develop into a great softball player at the University of Washington because of her talent, skillset and work ethic.

Tarr didn’t expect Bates to reach all-time great status.

Bates, a 2016 Ceres High School grad, has also become a fan favorite and role model during her time with the Huskies.

She routinely signs autographs.

She has over 68,000 followers on Instagram.

A couple youth softball players from Ohio received custom-made Sis Bates Washington jerseys for Christmas from their fathers.

“Getting ahold of someone like Sis is not easy,” Tarr said. “She’s a game-changer. We expected that from her. No one predicted she would become the sensation she is today. She’s as popular of an athlete there is in today’s sports world. She’s done a great job of not letting the success get in her way. She doesn’t want the attention. It’s awesome having someone like that representing our program with that stature. She prefers to lead by example. She’s one of the nicest people.”

“It is incredible to really think about that,” Bates said while talking about her stardom. “I just remember growing up admiring Jenn Salling and Natasha Watley. I loved the passion they had for the game and their teammates and their confidence. I hope that I can emulate these same characteristics for young girls.”

“My coaches and teammates push me day in and day out,” she added. “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 continue to build on her legacy this spring.

She opted to return for a fifth and final season with the Huskies.

She was granted an extra year of eligibility after the 2020 campaign was cut short due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Bates graduated from Washington on June 12.

She earned a sociology degree.

Bates had a perfect 4.0 GPA her last semester.

“We’re lucky we get her for another year,” Tarr said. “She’s probably the best shortstop we’ve ever had. 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.”

“I am honestly just looking forward to our next practice and getting to see all of my teammates’ faces,” Bates said. “Quarantine has been super difficult not being able to see loved ones.”

Using results from a fan poll, ESPN unveiled its Greatest All-Time Softball Team on June 9. 

Bates received the most votes for shortstop. 

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%).

Bates 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.

She’s helped lead Washington to three trips to the NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series, including a finals appearance in 2018.

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.

“Softball has always been my happy place so it is pretty easy to have a good time and smile when you are having so much fun with people you love,” she said.