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Signing Day for Nicole Bates
Ceres Highs Bates earns scholarship to Washington
Bulldog senior softball standout Nicole Bates (pictured above celebrating with family members) signed a national letter of intent with the University of Washington on Wednesday. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

The crowd spilled out the front entrance of Super Mom's Frozen Yogurt & More just before 7 Wednesday evening.

A purple and gold University of Washington flag hung inside the shop.

Photos of Nicole Bates were displayed on a wall inside.

The Ceres High senior softball star signed a national letter of intent with the Huskies.

"My dream is coming true," Nicole said. "It's really cool."

Bates donned a Washington hat and shirt while celebrating her latest accomplishment with family members, friends, and current and former teammates and coaches.

"She's got that drive that makes her that next-level kid," said John Bates, Nicole's father. "She wants the extra groundballs. She wants to go and hit. She doesn't like being second in anything."

Bates even took time to sign a few autographs during the hour-long signing party.

"These people have had a huge impact on my life," Nicole said.

The University of Washington posted a press release on its athletic website earlier in the day.

"It's so cool," she said. "I don't even know how to explain it."

Bates made a non-binding verbal commitment with the Huskies during her freshman year.

"It's surreal to finally sign the letter," Nicole said. "It's finally happening. It's still hard to believe. I'm just really excited. This is the school I've always wanted to go to since I was a little girl."

Bates put up impressive numbers during her junior year with Ceres High's varsity softball program.

Bates garnered special recognition as the standout hitter and shortstop was selected to the MaxPreps California Medium Schools All-State Team on July 27.

Nicole batted .518 with three homers, seven triples, 14 doubles, 27 RBIs, 51 runs and 14 stolen bases during her junior year with the Bulldogs, who 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.

Bates was voted WAC Offensive Player of the Year.

She ranked first in the WAC 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 won the Ceres High Female Athlete of the Year Award for the second year in a row.

Nicole was selected to the 33rd Annual Cal-Hi Sports Underclass All-State First Team on July 13.

She was named to the FloSoftball All-American First Team on July 8.

Bates has been a member of the nationally-ranked Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers-Rico 18-and-under travel softball team for the past two years.

She suited up for Mike Baisdon's NorCal Firecrackers 16-and-under squad for one season.

Bates ranks among Ceres High's all-time greatest players.

"Nicole wants to be the best," John said. "She's very humble. She would never say that."

Washington signed six players last week.

Bates, Sam Manti (Chula Vista, Calif.), Gianna Carideo (Knoxville, Tenn.), Maggie Gallagher (Seattle, Wash.), Kaija Gibson (Redmond, Wash.) and Alyssa Simmons (Snohomish, Wash.) bonded during recruiting trips.

"She verballed a long time ago," John said. "You hear it's just a handshake. Now, it's real. It's hard to wrap your mind around. It's pretty crazy."

"We haven't really talked about my role," Nicole added. "I just plan on doing whatever my team needs me to do."