'Quite a bit of a jump': Mitchell's Lincoln Bates excelling in baseball and track during senior season

Both on the track and the baseball field, Lincoln Bates excelled in his senior season balancing the two sports.

Mitchell's Lincoln Bates waits for a pitch to come in during a high school baseball game against Sioux Falls Roosevelt on Monday, May 8, 2023, at Cadwell Park.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — Opposing coaches watch Lincoln Bates’ form on the high jump and walk away impressed.

On the track, Bates is tied for eighth in Class AA going into the state meet, having cleared 6 feet, and coach Deb Thill said the form comes relatively naturally for him, but the high jump hasn’t been the senior’s main focus this spring.

Away from the track this season, Bates was one of the most consistent hitters on the Mitchell High School baseball team, patrolling left field nearly every game and producing at the plate as well.

“I think I did take quite a bit of a jump,” Bates said of his baseball performance this spring. “I’ve gained a lot of size since last year, and I’ve been to practice more often.”

Mitchell's Lincoln Bates swings at a pitch from Sturgis during Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Drake Field.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Much like in years prior, Bates qualified for the state meet in the high jump, though he did it relatively early in the season this year, which he said took a bit of the stress off him for baseball since he didn’t have to worry about qualifying anymore. But unlike last year, balancing the two sports looked a bit different this year.


Last season, Bates would typically attend track practice and try to make baseball if he could, but this year, baseball took priority. He attended baseball practice over track, and even though he hasn’t been able to practice much this year for the high jump, there’s still been improvement, especially since last year.

Mitchell's Lincoln Bates competes in the high jump during the Mitchell Triangular on Tuesday, April 12 at Joe Quintal Field.
Mitchell Republic file photo

“My jumps have been more consistent this year compared to the last couple years, for sure,” he said. “The experience of the last three years, I've gotten consistency in my run through down. It's almost been the exact same for three years.”

“When he does a run through and he jumps over the bar, other teams’ coaches go, ‘Oh, that’s so pretty,’” track coach Deb Thill added. “Every time I hear coaches say he’s got great form over the bar.”

Jumping while playing baseball may not have a direct impact at the plate, and conversely, the skills from the baseball field might not show up when jumping. But Bates said the athleticism that he’s developed during track translates to baseball.

"Just the the wellness of working with the track team has definitely helped me speed wise and athletically wise and not getting hurt," Bates said.

On the diamond, he led the team with six doubles, 14 walks and 20 runs scored, finished second with 20 hits and tied for second on the Kernels with a .500 on-base percentage. He was also one of three players to hit a home run while finishing third on the team with a .333 average.

But even despite the success both at the high jump and on the baseball field, the future for Bates lies in a third sport — golf. In fall 2022, he was Mitchell’s most consistent player on the golf course and led the team in scoring average. While he’s been recruited for all three sports, he plans to take a gap year and golf in Arizona with the hopes of walking on at the University of Arizona.

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Bates has been the Kernels' best golfer this season, averaging a team-low stroke average of 76.5.

Part of the reason for choosing golf, Bates said, is due to his size. He feels golf is the sport he has the potential to excel at the most given his stature, and Thill said she jokes with him that if he was a few inches taller he’d be clearing seven feet on the high jump. Still, though, Bates’ love for all three sports is apparent.


“Depends on the season,” Bates said on which sport is his favorite. “Right now, I like baseball a lot more than golf, but if you ask me in the fall, it’s a different answer."

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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