The Wolverine

August 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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"I wanted to do whatever I could to make Michigan softball better. That's all I focused on. I've played softball my whole life. I just stuck to playing my game and what I knew how to do." Romero didn't need long to show she was ready for the college game. "In the fall, you could tell she would be a big part of our team," Hutchins said. "The minute she walked on the field in the fall, she started producing. She didn't blink. Her confidence is as good as any kid I have every coached." When the season finally arrived, Romero immediately became one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the Big Ten — if not the country. Romero hit a single-season program-record 23 home runs, which ranked first in the Big Ten and sixth nationally. She led the team in batting average (.379), runs (67) and RBI (71), while posting a slugging percentage of .841 (second in the Big Ten and 11th nationally) and an on-base percentage of .527 (23rd nationally). When fans, media and other teams started to take notice, Romero took it in stride. "This is a kid who comes from a really great family background," Hutchins said. "She wanted to come to Michigan, because she wanted to be part of a great team. She's a team player, and I think she handled it all really well this season. "When people walked her, she took it. A lot of kids start pushing the issue, because they want to get the hit. She's very mature. She's still a kid, but she knows how to be successful. A lot of players her age don't necessarily know how to handle success, but she has been successful her entire life, so she is kind of a pro." "The coaching staff and the girls were very supportive all year long," Romero added. "We all want what's best for each other. My teammates are amazing. The upperclassmen really helped me adjust to the college level. They are some of my good friends, and they had a tremendous impact on me this year." After her fantastic rookie campaign, Romero became just the second player in conference history to win the Big Ten Player Of The Year and Big Ten Freshman Of The Year awards in the same season, joining former Wolverine Sara Griffin, who accomplished the feat in 1995. She was also named a second-team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. "When I found out the news, I called my family. My mom was crying and my dad was repeating how proud he was," Romero said. "I also have three younger siblings who were so happy for me and supported me throughout the year." "I wasn't totally shocked that she won it," Hutchins said. "There were a few people in the running for it, including some older players. "She was rewarded for the kind of year she had. There wasn't a series where she didn't make an impact this season. She shows up, produces on offense and plays defense. When you play Michigan, you remember her, every time. That is the kind of kid she is, and she was deserving." ❑

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