Sis Bates is in Rosemont, Illinois, where she is starring with Athletes Unlimited in her first professional season.
Once that ends, she’ll have another softball home, and it’s a familiar one.
The former Huskies shortstop was named to the Washington softball coaching staff Friday by head coach Heather Tarr as a student assistant, joining fellow new additions Ashley Carter-Davis and Kyle Nobach.
“She was out on the recruiting trail all summer for us,” Tarr said. “Myself and one of our assistant head coaches went to the Olympics, so she was here and really learned the craft of recruiting and evaluating. Already we’ve seen her step into this role.”
Bates just finished her Huskies career in the spring, ending her collegiate campaign as the program’s all-time hits leader with 320. She also was named the 2021 Tom Hansen Medal winner and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the past season, her third time earning the honor. She was also named the 2021 Softball America NCAA Defensive Player of the Year.
A second team All-American as a senior, the 23-year-old Bates passed Sara Pickering for the Washington hits record in May when the Huskies faced No. 1 Oklahoma. As a senior, she hit .389, matching her full-season career high, while also picking up 12 doubles and a career-high 21 stolen bases. She was hitting .529 in 2020 before the season was canceled.
As a pro, Bates has begun her career hitting .350 in eight games, scoring two runs with two doubles and a stolen base.
“It’s been pretty hectic,” Bates said this month about beginning her professional career. “It’s felt like a whirlwind. But just being here and being settled in here, and competing every day like we have, I feel like I’m learning the routine. I’m a total nerd for softball, every day here has been the best.”
She returned to Washington as a graduate student to earn a master’s degree in education after graduating in the spring.
Tarr said pre-pandemic, if she had finished her four years on schedule and hadn’t begun grad school as a fifth-year player, she would have been only allowed to be a graduate manager. Now, she’s able to be a direct part of the coaching for her former teammates and new recruits.
“It’s one of the more exciting things I’ve ever been able to do, to have someone going from being one of our best players to potentially start her career in coaching,” Tarr said. “If she wants to coach, now she has the whole world ahead of her.”
The Athletes Unlimited season runs until Sept. 27, and then Bates will return to Montlake to work on her degree and start preparing for the next collegiate season, this time helping coach her former teammates and other future Husky stars.
“She’s going to be a game changer working with our young infield,” Tarr said. “That infield is really there to replace her, and she’s a part of molding that now.”