Romero sisters Sierra, Sydney pile up softball honors

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) It's been a special few weeks for the Romero family.

Last week, Sierra, a senior at Michigan, was honored as the Amateur Softball Association/USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year.

Now, Sydney, a freshman at Oklahoma and a member of the U.S. junior national team, is one win away from a national championship.

She hit a three-run homer in a 3-2 win over Auburn on Monday night in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series. Game 2 will be played Tuesday.

The most intense moments for the family came when Sydney helped Oklahoma defeat Michigan 7-5 on Saturday night. Sydney had two hits, including a solo homer.

''It was emotional,'' their father, Michael, said. ''It really was. I didn't think it would be. We always thought it wouldn't be. It's a lot easier said. When they actually played and it actually occurred, it was tough.''

Sydney said it was a strange night.

''I had to get over the fact that I was playing against my sister,'' she said. ''It's tough because she's family but I had to get over it. I was rooting for her but I wasn't at the same time. That was the toughest part. But at the end of the day, I had to play it just like a normal game.''

Sierra normally doesn't talk after losses, but she made an exception after Saturday's game.

''If she loses a big game, she's real quiet for 24 hours,'' Michael said. ''We can't text her, we can't call her because she won't respond. But she did respond to her sister. She wished Sydney good luck and said good job.''

Hours after Michigan was eliminated by Florida State on Sunday, Sierra was seen in the stands wearing an Oklahoma shirt. Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso appreciated the support.

''Her sister is such a big part of her life, and anybody that's a big part of Sydney's life is a part of ours,'' Gasso said.

''And that's what we wanted to do is just try to - if she (Sierra) couldn't feel this joy, we're going to try to help Sydney feel this joy with her. So, it's a tough deal, but we respect Michigan, and I don't think Sydney would be the player she is today without Sierra.''

On Monday, after Sydney's home run, Sierra Tweeted: ''SYDNEY JOY ROMERO YOU STUD!!!!''

Last year, Sierra's Michigan team finished as national runner-up to Florida. Now, Sydney, a second-team All-Big 12 selection, has her chance. Michael said he's not surprised by Sydney's impact early in her career.

''As a fan of the sport, every travel ballclub she played for, every coach that has coached her and every teammate that she has had has gotten her to this situation,'' he said.

''She's prepared for it. I'm not surprised one bit because she's always been surrounded by good coaches, by good players, by good families growing up in the sport.''

Sydney benefited from having an exceptional role model - Sierra became the first Big Ten player to be selected as the national player of the year. Michael is proud that Sierra took the award up north.

''I hope it does a lot for the sport as far as that conference, because it's a phenomenal conference to play in,'' Michael said. ''I hope it brings more players and allows them to understand they can be in that conference, they can be at that school and be successful.''

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

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