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Ceres Highs Bates earns national recognition
Bulldog senior selected to ALL-USA Preseason Team
Ceres Highs Nicole Bates was named to the 2016 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason Softball Team. USA TODAY High School Sports made the announcement on Thursday. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High senior Nicole Bates has been selected to the 2016 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason Softball Team as announced by USA TODAY High School Sports on March 3.

"I think it's fantastic," Bulldogs Athletic Director Shawna Nunes said. "It's good recognition for her, for Ceres High softball and for the city of Ceres. She deserves it."

A total of 25 players throughout the nation, including seven from California, were recognized by USA TODAY High School Sports.

The ALL-USA Preseason Softball Team consists of five pitchers, two catchers, six infielders, three outfielders and four utility players.

There were also five honorable-mention selections.

Players were selected based on high school performance, level of competition and strength of schedule.

"I'm happy for Nicole," Nunes said. "She's earned the right to have that type of attention and respect. She works hard. She plays hard."

Bates, a standout hitter and shortstop with the Bulldogs since her freshman year, earned a scholarship to the University of Washington. She signed a national letter of intent with the Huskies on Nov. 11.

Nicole put up impressive numbers last spring for Ceres High, which posted a 22-9 overall record, placed first in the Western Athletic Conference (10-2) for the second straight season and tied for fifth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff bracket.

She batted .518 on the year with three homers, seven triples, 14 doubles, 27 RBIs, 51 runs and 14 stolen bases.
Bates was voted WAC Offensive Player of the Year. She ranked first in batting average (.521), slugging percentage (.875), on-base percentage (.558), doubles (7) and runs (24), second in homers (2), triples (2) and RBIs (17), and third in stolen bases (6).

Bates was selected to the FloSoftball All-American First Team.

She was also named to the MaxPreps and Cal-Hi Sports all-state teams as well.

Nicole won the Ceres High Female Athlete of the Year Award for the second year in a row.