Conlon Embracing Role as Team Leader

"I'm going to leave it all out there with nothing to lose," said Conlon on entering his redshirt senior season with the Bat Cats. "I'm going to give everything I can with the team. It's my last year, so I know it's going to fly by, but I don't want it to end. I'm going to cherish the day-in and day-out grind because it's a long season."
Conlon, the team's most experienced player, is the only senior who has spent his entire collegiate career at K-State. He joined the Wildcat roster in 2011; however, in 2012, he suffered a season-ending injury that forced him to redshirt his sophomore year.
Coming back in 2013, Conlon was a member of K-State's Big 12 Championship team, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors after he led the conference's top offense in runs scored and total bases and tied for the lead in home runs. 
Despite a disappointing 2014 campaign, Conlon has spent his fall and winter helping integrate his new and young teammates and is eager to continue sharing his experience as the season continues. 
"My whole thing going into this year with all the new guys was to develop relationships," said Conlon, who is helping tutor 22 new faces. "To me, if you can get a team that's closely knit together and that's willing to do anything for the guy next to him, that's how we've been successful in the past. When that team spreads apart and goes their own separate ways, that's when things kind of get into turmoil. Being the person that's been here the longest, my goal is to form relationships with all the guys - young, old - and be a good mentor for them. Then, when we get on the field, we're willing to do anything for each other."
Conlon's work ethic and experience has not only rubbed off on the younger players and new transfers, but it, along with his leadership, has also made an impact on his fellow upperclassmen. 
"This will be his fifth year here, and he's just a guy that you want to model yourself after," said teammate and fellow senior Carter Yagi, who is now in his second season donning a Wildcat uniform. "Shane is a role model to everyone. He does everything the right way, and when he talks, you listen. If you've ever watched the way he plays, he plays hard and gives it everything he's got. He'll do anything for his teammates."
Coming off of a 3-2, walk-off win over Utah last night at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona, the Wildcats will continue competition in the Big 12/Pac-12 Challenge against Oregon State this afternoon at 2 p.m. (CT). 
Overall, Oregon State leads the all-time series against K-State, 5-4, including a series two years ago that Conlon remembers well.
Today will be the first time K-State and Oregon State have faced off since the 4-3 Wildcat loss in the third and final game of the best-of-three Super Regional series in Corvallis. Conlon, who had three hits and a run scored during the series, made the final out in game three, a pop up in foul territory.
"Obviously when Friday comes I'll be thinking about it," said Conlon earlier this week about taking on Oregon State, which ended K-State's attempt at reaching the College World Series for the first time, "but you don't want to put too much into it. This is a whole different team, and I'm sure they have a whole new team as well. So I won't be letting it get to me."
Following today's game, the Wildcats will face Washington tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m. (CT) in Mesa's Sloan Park and Washington State on Sunday at 12 p.m. K-State is one of four Big 12 teams playing against four Pac-12 squads in various Major League Baseball spring training facilities this weekend. 
"This Big 12/Pac-12 Challenge is a good opportunity to showcase our talents," added Conlon. "It's going to be awesome. There is going to be some awesome weather. It'll be nice to get out of there without all the snow, and it's a good opportunity for us to see where we stand against one of the major baseball conferences in the country. We're looking forward to it, and we're taking it one game at a time."
The Wildcats opened their 2015 season last weekend with a trip to the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. Splitting its four games, K-State defeated both Iowa (5-4) and Pittsburgh (7-0) before falling to George Mason (5-0) and Saint Louis (7-4). While the tournament's final two games may not have panned out the way Conlon hoped, the experience of getting on the field for the first time with his team was crucial to continuing a successful season. 
"I thought it was good to get our feet under us down there," added Conlon on K-State's opening weekend. "Our pitching staff threw lights out. We were setting up innings, and we couldn't really knock them down offensively, but we have been working really hard, and hopefully we start knocking down the innings and getting the pitching staff some runs because they're doing their job well right now."
For game notes and more on this weekend's competition for the Wildcats, please click here. For a recap from last night's game, please click here

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