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Despite snub, Bates is taking her game to the next level
When you ask B.B. Bates about the Desert Sky League Softball Player of the Year award, she refuses to say one word that might sound bitter or negative.
But plenty of people around her were scratching their heads when Bates was passed over for the honor for the second straight season.
Superb, outstanding, excellent — none of those superlatives seem adequate in describing Bates’ senior season with Victor Valley High School. Bates’ batting average of .758 wasn’t just the best in the league, the area or the state. According to MaxPreps.com, it was the best in the nation.
Bates’ standout play has made her the Daily Press Softball Athlete of the Year for the second straight year, and yet she failed to win the DSL’s top honor, awarded by the league’s coaches. Victor Valley head coach Joe Campbell wouldn’t talk much about the decision of his fellow coaches, except to express his disappointment and befuddlement.
“Best player I ever coached,” Campbell said. “Easiest player to work with. I never had an attitude problem with her. She was so far ahead of everybody else, I think it bothered some people.”
Here’s what Bates herself had to say: “I don’t think that me getting MVP tells me who I am. I still know who I am. I still have my dreams. I guess it didn’t hit me that I didn’t get it, because it really didn’t bother me.”
Barstow shortstop Alyssa Maldonado, who had a standout senior season in her own right, was named the DSL’s top player.
“She probably stood out more than me,” Bates said. “So that’s why she was picked.”
Perhaps. But Bates’ numbers were eye-popping. She had an on-base percentage of .800 and a slugging percentage of 1.288. She drove in 36 runs and hit seven homers. Campbell praised her work ethic and leadership, which helped lead the team to the DSL championship.
Considering her sizable skills, it’s surprising that softball was something that Bates came upon almost by accident.
Her parents, Roosevelt and Solette Bates, were basketball fans, but B.B. never took much of an interest in playing hoops. At age 10 she wanted to sign up for softball because a friend was doing it. She played for Victorville Ribbons Little League and took to it almost immediately.
“Someone suggested she should play travel ball because she was a natural at it,” Solette Bates said. “At 10 years old she started playing on a 12-and-under team, and she just flourished from there.”
And it wasn’t long before she established a lofty, almost audacious goal.
“She watched her first softball game at UCLA at around 10 years old, and I remember her saying, ‘I want to play here,’ ” her mother recalled. “She just never let go of that dream.”
In her junior year of high school, the dream came true when she verbally committed to play for UCLA, one of the top softball programs in the nation. She later signed her letter of intent and will be an outfielder for the Bruins.
Despite her apparent indifference toward the DSL Player of the Year snub, when she talks about her college goals it’s clear that those kinds of accolades do matter to her — at least a little bit.
“I want to be a leader as a freshman,” Bates said. “I want to make All-American. I want to basically stand out as a freshman.”
If her level of achievement in college is anything close to what it was in high school, there are plenty of awards coming her way.
Kris Reilly is the sports editor of the Daily Press. He can be reached at 951-6274 or at firstname.lastname@example.org