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AUX: Sis Bates brings fun and defense to the field

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Sis Bates. (Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Athletes Unlimited provides the opportunity for players to extend their careers past college. For the viewers, it provides an opportunity to continue watching some of sports’ best — like Sis Bates.

Bates first graced the Athletes Unlimited softball field last year after being drafted in the inaugural Athletes Unlimited softball college draft. She wound up finishing ninth in the league’s second season with 1,468 leaderboard points after starting in all 15 games.

She finished the season hitting .326, registering 14 hits and tied for the league lead with five doubles.

But her performance last season wasn’t surprising for those who know Bates. A former NCAA Defensive Player of the Year and three-time NFCA All-American, the shortstop had a storied career at the University of Washington.

“I got to work with Sis Bates with USA Softball, and she was just a pleasure to work with,” Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said of Bates last May. “(She’s) just a gamer, loves to play, great attitude. Very infectious approach.

“Sis is real flash. … She can spin around, throw somebody out. She’s got a knack and nose for the game like nobody I’ve seen, with the exception of somebody like Grace Lyons.”

The all-time leader in Washington history with 18 triples, she’s also the Huskies’ all-time hits leader with 320 in 261 career games. She also ranks third in runs (227), fourth in batting average (.385) and fifth in doubles (54).

A two-time NFCA First-Team All-American, she was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year three times for her play at shortstop, just the second player in Pac-12 history to have won the award three times. In 2020, she was named the Greatest Softball Shortstop of All Time by ESPN.

As she’s made her way to the pros, she hasn’t let off the gas either.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” Bates told the Seattle Times last September about playing in Athletes Unlimited. “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.”

During the first week of play for AUX, Bates showed once again why she’s one of the best to play the game. She recorded 15 assists on the weekend while giving up just one error, meaning she had perfect fielding percentage in all but one game. She also recorded three double plays — including two against Team Ocasio.

“Defense is super fun,” Bates told Softball America last February. “It sounds so funny for me to say that. But, seriously, I do love it. I love it so much. It is genuinely fun for me.”

“She converts most of the balls she can get to into outs; that’s as good as having a dominant pitcher,” Washington coach Heather Tarr told ESPN in 2019. “The ball is always converted into an out. If it’s possible, it’s going to be converted into an out, whether it’s routine or not a routine play. She’s super efficient.”

Her efficiency currently has her 10th on the AUX leaderboard — just two points behind Aliyah Andrews. As she enters the second series of play on Saturday for Team Gibson, look for Bates to continue doing as she does and find herself climbing up the leaderboard.