Arizona State’s pair of sophomore twins, Maddi and Kindra Hackbarth, are more than happy to have competed at the Women’s College World Series. But the jubilant feeling came from more than just having the chance to play for a national championship.
Their time in Oklahoma City meant they got to see their a life-long friend again in Washington’s shortstop Nicole “Sis” Bates.
“We don’t say best friend because we’re not together all the time. But I call her my sister friend because we played together since we were four,” Kindra said. “We’ve grown and we always still have that special bond. Whenever I called her she always picked up the phone.”
The three started playing recreation ball in Ceres, California. Being too young to play softball, they began with T-Ball and baseball. The ‘triplets’ as the Hackbarth’s mom likes to call them, went their separate ways at age 10.
Despite that, the three have remained very close. On the WCWS’ opening day on Thursday, Washington’s game against Oklahoma immediately followed Arizona State’s Pac-12 matchup with Oregon in Oklahoma City. As the teams switched on and off of OGE Energy field they were able to see each other.
“We’ve been best friends since we were so small, I can’t even remember. It’s cool to see them right before the game,” Bates said. “Mary, their mom came over and was like ‘hey Sis, go get them. I love you.’ It’s just so cool to have so many families here for each other.”
Maddi, Kindra and Sis have more friends in Oklahoma City as well. Fellow WCWS’ participants, Georgia’s catcher Mahlena O’Neal and UCLA’s center fielder Madilyn “Bubba” Nickles played on the same 10 and under team.
“It’s incredible. It’s so cool seeing all of them,” Kindra said. “We’re going not going to be rooting for all the teams, but I’m going to be rooting for my friends. I wish them nothing but the best. I couldn’t imagine we if brought that 10 and under team back. We’d be so good!”
The Hackbarths made a family decision to move to Oakdale, California for Oakdale High School’s athletic program. They played against Nickles as she attended Merced High School in California. While Bates and O’Neal stayed in Ceres for their high school careers.
With the Hackbarth twins transferring from Fresno State and into the Pac-12, the three now have the ability to play each other every year. Bates mentioned what it was like when the Huskies traveled to Tempe for their series against the Sun Devils back in March.
“When I saw them, it’s so exciting. We got to compete, but when the game is over it’s like ‘I miss you guys. It’s so good to see you,’” she said.
“Now, we face each other and it’s like ‘wow, it’s so weird not being on the same team.’ On the field I still love her, but you get competitive,” Kindra said.
Bates took home this year’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Watch any Huskies’ game and you’ll understand why. The shortstop covers a ton of ground and makes fantastic plays that don’t always end up in outs. Along with being the Pac’s best defender, Bates also earned First-Team selections from the Pac-12 and NFCA’s All-American list.
“I definitely look up to her,” Kindra said. “I wear 22 because of her. She’s a stud in every way, shape and form. Just speechless because she’s so good. She deserves every award she’s gotten. She’s just incredible.”
Sis Bates = clutch— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) May 13, 2018
Her .985 field percentage + team-high .400 batting average earns the @UWSoftball star #Pac12SB Defender of the Year: https://t.co/zAjKtxepsL pic.twitter.com/XXLiNeUKsz
Kindra was one of the victims of Bates specular play as she robbed the twin of a base hit during the series in Tempe.
“I defiantly gave her creds on Twitter for robbing my hit. But it’s okay I wouldn’t want it to be anyone else honestly.”
Kindra also shines with her glove. The right fielder has been taking away hits and saving runs most of the season. Her and Bates facetime after games to see how it went to each other. Bates mentioned how they’ll go back and forth saying things like, ‘gosh dude such a good play.’
The two do also talk about everything in life outside of softball like any other typical girls with a close friendship.
Deja vu, anyone?@kindiboo makes two amazing catches in consecutive nights for @ASUSoftball . pic.twitter.com/hU79ChEaJz— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) May 12, 2018
The Hackbarths’ first experience at the Women’s College World Series came to an end on Saturday, but they have plenty to root for. Bates and Nickles’ teams have advanced to the semi-finals of their respective side of the WCWS’ bracket.