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Rome wins top honor for 2nd year

by Rob Peirce

SPORTS WRITER

BRIDGEPORT -- She was an offensive threat in softball, and she scored at will in basketball, at times toying with opposing defenses. Yet she always managed to get her teammates involved.

Wherever there was a need to put points on the board or win, Bridgeport's Erica Rome was up for the challenge.

For her dominance in both sports, Rome was named the Harrison County Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year Wednesday at the annual BB&T/Exponent and Telegram Athlete of the Year Banquet at Via Veneto in Bridgeport.

"Last year, I was more surprised, because I really wasn't thinking about (the award)," Rome said. "But this year, I was excited. That's a credit to my family and teammates. Coach (Dave) Marshall really helped me out all four years, and my dad coached my softball team."

In basketball, Rome was one of five seniors on an Indians team that marched through the regular season untouched and undefeated and was ranked No. 1 in Class AA for most of the year.

Bridgeport made it all the way to the regional championship game, losing a heartbreaker to No. 2 Ritchie County for its only loss of the year to go with 23 wins. But the award isn't consolation for the loss to the Rebels.

"I don't think anything can provide consolation for losing that game," Rome said. "We go undefeated through the regular season, but we knew we were going to have a hard game. We would have had a better chance if we were healthier, but that's not an excuse. But I'm happy that we had that kind of a season."

The point guard picked up Harrison County and Big 10 Conference Player of the Year awards and was a repeat selection on the all-state team. She averaged 16.9 points a game and hit 20 3-pointers.

In softball, her dominance continued. As a shortstop, she batted .500, while scoring 23 runs, knocking in 21 more and stealing 21 bases.

Again, Bridgeport just missed the state tournament, losing 3-1 to Berkeley Springs in the regional finals. And again, Rome was named to the all-county, all-conference and all-state teams.

In the fall, Rome takes her athletic excellence to Fairmont State, where she'll join the Falcons basketball team. She's considering walking on to join her twin sister, Andrea, on the softball team, depending on what basketball coach Steve McDonald says.

But Erica Rome already has her hands full for basketball.

"It's going to be challenging, because everybody that plays college ball has to be good -- otherwise they wouldn't play," she said. "I know I can do it. Hopefully I'll get to play a little next year."

Sports writer Rob Peirce can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at sports@exponent-telegram.com.

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