OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sierra Romero doesn't believe she made a mistake. In the seventh inning of Monday's 3-2 loss to Florida, the All-American had a chance to take home from third base on a line drive up the middle to tie the game. Instead, she played it safe and wound up being stranded on third as the Gators went on to win Game 1.
After the game, Romero stood by her decision and was ready to move on to the next game.
The difference between Romero and other players is that she turned the criticism into fuel for her and her team. So after the Wolverines (60-7) shut down the Gators (59-7) 1-0 on Tuesday in Game 2, she was once again asked about Monday's 7th inning baserunning decision.
“We weren't out of it,” a defiant Romero said. “You know, everyone can have their opinion whether I should have gone or not, but I was the only one in that game at that moment. I made a decision I made. I don't think it affected us. We won today, right?”That is the type of leadership the junior from Murrieta, California has been providing the Wolverines the entire year. So it wasn't a surprise that in the team's biggest game of the season, Romero was there to provide a lift with the team in a must-win situation.
“Once [Monday's] game was over, we completely forgot about it,” Romero said. “We put it past us. And we knew that they had to beat us one more time. We were just going to make sure we came out playing Michigan softball, and do that from the get-go.”
Romero didn't have the greatest offensive numbers. In fact, she was 0-for-3 on the night.
However, in a game that featured few hits and base runners, Romero found a way to contribute.
In the bottom of the first inning, junior Sierra Lawrence led off with a single. Romero came to bat and advanced Lawrence to second on a fielder's choice. Both her and Lawrence were safe. Kelsey Susalla singled to shallow center field to plate Lawrence. It turned out to be the only run of the game.
“The biggest thing for me that I really learned this year is that I can't do it all,” Romero said. “And I'm not always going to. Today my bat wasn't on but all I could was keep swinging and trying to give us a chance.”
While her offensive numbers weren't up to her All-American standards, the rest of Romero's game was. That includes her defense, leadership and attitude.
Before the game, one particular person took notice of Romero's skill set. Former Major League pitcher Curt Schilling, who is part of the ESPN broadcast team calling the series, raved about the Wolverines shortstop.
“I said she was Derek Jeter with more power,” Schilling said. “She is a leader. You don't have to be a .400 hitter or a 30 home run hitter to be a leader. It's nice when they are. She is a complete package. When you can win with your glove, when you can win as a baserunner and win at the plate, you bring the Mike Trout-kind of dimensions to the game. She doesn't have to have four hits to beat you. She can beat you making a play up the middle. Those are lethal players because you don't find them a lot.”
The Wolverines will have to rise up one more time Wednesday in a winner-take-all Game 3. Romero has complete confidence in her team's ability to rise to the moment.
“I cannot be more proud of this team,” Romero said. “Just the resilience they've had has been amazing since we got here. Every game has been a battle. It's been a fight. I was very, very impressed with our team after last night. We lost. It was a tough game. But that didn't hurt us at all. We know we are a good team and that we can come back. That's what we did and now we got it to Game 3. It's going to be a great game tommorow.”