Tomlinson brings high expectations to Bremerton baseball team

First-year Bremerton High School baseball coach Rob Tomlinson shows a move during practice Friday. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
First-year Bremerton High School baseball coach Rob Tomlinson shows a move during practice Friday.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

New season. New coach. New attitude.

But will it add up to different results?

With the Bremerton High School baseball team opening the 2010 season March 15, first-year coach Rob Tomlinson believes the answer is, "yes."

"I think we're going to shock some people," he said.

Tomlinson, 37, inherits a Knights team that finished 1-17 last season and lost eight games by 10 runs or more under former coach Ken Plowman. Opponents scored at least 10 runs on 12 separate occasions against Bremerton, which is 4-33 since 2007.

To change that losing tradition, Tomlinson said, the players need to be believe in themselves and play with confidence.

"The biggest thing is to change the mentality," Tomlinson said. "I want them to play with a swagger."

Early indications point to swagger in Tomlinson, a self-described no-nonsense coach who is making his head-coaching debut at the high school level.

The Bremerton resident brings a hard-nosed attitude to a team accustomed to losing. He was a state wrestling champion in high school, served 11 years in the military and played semiprofessional baseball for the San Diego Braves in 1997.

Now an assistant to Nate Gillam on the Bremerton football team's coaching staff, Tomlinson expects his players to show up ready to compete.

"They know I'm not messing around at practices," he said.

Billy Davenport, a returning senior, said it's been a smooth transition with the coaching change.

He said Tomlinson is holding the players accountable on the field and providing constructive feedback, to both the newcomers and returners.

"You can tell he's dedicated, devoted to the team," Davenport said. "He knows what he's talking about."

The team's first practices were last week, but Tomlinson has yet to finalize a lineup. He said the team has strong freshmen and junior classes and those players will be asked to make large contributions.

Among the freshmen is Eli Fultz, a 6-foot-1-inch left-hander who will be inserted into the rotation, possibly as the No. 1 starter. Tomlinson's son, Kaden Tomlinson, also is a freshman and will play middle infield.

Max Hayes, who pitches and plays third and first base, leads the junior class along with Devin Garcia. Hayes was a full-time starter in 2009 and saw varsity experience as a freshman in 2008.

Garcia, meanwhile, provides power in the middle of the batting order and will see time at third base.

"He's got a lot of potential, a lot of upside," Tomlinson said.

Davenport and senior Charles Wilson, a member of Bremerton's state-tournament bound basketball team, will start in the outfield. Richie Langford, a junior, is also vying for a starting outfield position.

The team also returns seniors Ryan Storey, Josh Fisher and Bret Brown.

"People don't actually understand how much talent we have," Davenort said. "We are going to use that to our advantage and sneak up on some teams."

For Tomlinson, the immediate goal is to ensure the team is improving on a daily basis and is ready for the season opener.

"I want them to step on the field with an attitude that they can't lose ball games," he said.

The Knights host Shelton High School in the season opener at 4 p.m. Monday at Legion Field in East Bremerton.

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