Sis Bates is the greatest college softball shortstop of all time.
Or, maybe the most popular.
This week, ESPN released its “Greatest All-Time Softball Team” — a squad assembled using the results of a fan vote. Bates — UW’s back-to-back Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year — was the runaway winner at shortstop, earning 37.21% of the final tally. UCLA’s Natasha Watley came in a distant second place, with 19.92% of the vote.
Bates was the lone Husky to crack the all-time team, but Danielle Lawrie came in third place at the right-handed pitcher position (14.73%), Kristen Rivera placed sixth among catchers (5.64%), and Sara Pickering finished seventh at second base (5.89%).
As for Bates, the Ceres, California, product’s prolific popularity shouldn’t come as a surprise. In the 2019 season, she was one of seven unanimous first-team All-Americans nationwide. She became the sixth Husky to compile 200 or more hits in her first three seasons. She hit .529 in 15 games before the 2020 season was abruptly canceled, and currently holds a .384 career average with 245 hits, 113 RBI and an on-base percentage of .451.
But Bates’ virtuosity is most apparent in the infield.
“Bates is an excellent offensive player,” wrote ESPN’s Graham Hays. “She also plays with an infectious joy and energy that all but begs fans and teammates to enjoy the game as much as she does. But it’s her ability to do things with her glove that quite literally defy description that mark her as an all-time great.”
A 5-foot-4 senior, Bates will return for a fifth and final season in Seattle in 2021. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Lawrie, Rivera and Pickering. Lawrie most notably led the Huskies to their only national championship in 2009, and she holds team records for wins, strikeouts, shutouts, appearances, starts, complete games and innings pitched. Rivera is UW’s only four-time All-American, a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year and the program’s all-time leader in home runs (79). Pickering batted .379 in 271 career games and set 15 school records by the time her Husky career concluded.
But, even without Lawrie, Rivera and Pickering, Bates and Co. will be among the favorites to win the Women’s College World Series in 2021.