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Romo’s versatility helping Everett to new heights
EVERETT — He keeps the public-address system busy.
Tanner Romo, a 2011 South Kitsap graduate, enters the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader for Everett Community College against Douglas in left field. A few innings later, he shifts to second base.
It is a pattern similar to that of one of Romo’s favorite players growing up, 1996 South graduate Willie Bloomquist. After playing shortstop for both the Wolves and Arizona State University, Bloomquist developed into a utility player at the behest of then-Seattle Mariners’ manager Lou Piniella when he was called up to the major leagues in 2002.
The athletic Romo — he was South’s starting quarterback during the 2010 season — felt it was a transition he could make not only to help his team but also to get onto the field more with EvCC, which finished with a 31-6 record and placed first in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College’s Northern Region with an 18-2 league mark. The Trojans advance to the region playoffs, which begin Thursday, with an opportunity to earn the Northern Division’s top seed entering the May 23-27 NWAACC Championships in Longview.
“I’m willing to play anywhere for these guys,” Romo said. “It feels good to help out the team in multiple ways. As long as I’m in the hitting lineup, that’s all that matters to me.”
Romo now regularly plays in the outfield along with second base, which was his position with the Wolves, and third base. But unlike many light-hitting utility players whose offensive skills are too weak to play regularly, Romo has a .291 batting average and leads the team with four sacrifice flies. It is a dramatic change from last year when Romo hit just .214 as a freshman.
“I got on a little roll for a while and felt great at the plate,” Romo said. “I am seeing the ball well.”
Romo is just the latest South graduate to experience success at EvCC. Aaron Cunningham, a 2004 alumnus, played for the Trojans and was drafted when the Chicago White Sox picked him in the sixth round in 2005. He has played parts of five seasons in the major leagues with Oakland, San Diego and Cleveland.
While he has not met Cunningham, Romo said his success played a role in him electing to attend EvCC. Romo graduated with Cunningham’s sister, Emilly, and knew his father, Chuck, who said his son had a good experience playing under Trojans’ coach Levi Lacey.
“A big shout out to Chuck Cunningham,” Romo said. “He gave me a couple of bats to start out my career here. It’s cool to follow Aaron here.”
EvCC, which now has won 30 games or more in a season for the seventh time since Lacey became coach in 2002, and reached No. 1 in the NWAACC’s weekly rankings earlier this season for the first time in program history, also has had 16 players drafted during his tenure. Romo does not anticipate adding his name to that list during next month’s amateur draft, but he hopes to keep playing at a four-year college next season.
Because he his focus is on the upcoming playoffs, Romo said he is has not placing too much emphasis on finding a place to play next year. Romo, a business major, said he likes Washington State, which is led by Donnie Marbut, who previously guided rival Edmonds Community College to great success before he became the Cougars’ manager in 2005.
“I really want to play at WSU, but I’m always open to a lot of things,” Romo said. “With the playoffs coming up I just want to focus on us.”
For now, Romo’s attention rests on the NWAACC playoffs, where he hopes to conclude his time with the Trojans stronger than at South. The Wolves lost their state opener two years ago, 8-3, against Newport. Coincidentally, the game was held at Everett Memorial.
“I knew I was coming here, so it was kind of rolling into the next step,” said Romo, who will be followed at EvCC by current South seniors Kevin Whatley and Michael Wood next year. “It’s nice to be on top. This is a great group right here.”