Conlon Reflects Back on Wildcat Career

A quiet leader and key contributor for K-State, Conlon is the only Wildcat on this year's roster with more than three years of experience in Manhattan and the only senior in this year's four-man senior class who has spent his entire career - from start to finish - with the Cats.
"Just the way he carries himself every day, he's the same guy every day, no matter what happens to him," said fellow senior Carter Yagi who transferred to K-State from the College of Southern Idaho before the 2014 season. "His leadership by example, you kind of want to enable yourself to be the player that he is. If you hang out with him, watch him play, you can learn a lot from the way he carries himself."
During his K-State career, Conlon has seen some high highs and some low lows. One of just four players in program history to play parts of five seasons, he started out freshman year as a contributor where he earned playing time in 31 games and pitched in 11 games with a 4-1 record and a 4.42 ERA. However, just six games into his sophomore year of 2012, an elbow injury required surgery and forced him to sit the sidelines.
It wasn't an easy time, but Conlon returned stronger than ever after earning a medical redshirt, and he helped the team win its first conference title in 80 years and an exciting postseason run that ended one game shy of reaching the College World Series. He was named a 2013 All-Big 12 First Team performer and was drafted in the 21st round (624th overall) by the Kansas City Royals.
After deciding to return to school instead of signing with the Royals, things didn't go quite as well for the Bat Cats in 2014 as they went 25-30, including a 5-19 mark in league play to finish last in the Big 12. 
"The biggest thing for me was, we were one out from going to the College World Series," explained Conlon on returning to K-State after the 2013 season. "It's been my dream since I was a kid, to go to the College World Series. Looking back on the decision, I don't regret anything. I've had a great time at K-State and wouldn't change anything."
In his final year in a Wildcat uniform, Conlon leads the team in hits (53) and is tied for the lead in extra-base hits (16). He's batted .406 (13-for-32) with three doubles, five RBI and five walks over the last ten games. With one of his most recent base hits - a single in the top of the ninth earlier this week against Wichita State - he became just the 18th player in school history to record 200 career hits. 
The oldest and most experienced player on the team, Conlon has garnered the nickname of "grandpa" to his younger teammates.
"I like it," Conlon responded with a smile when asked about his nickname. "I like them asking me about my experiences here."
And in his five years, his experiences have been plenty. 
Conlon graduated from K-State in December 2014 with a bachelor's degree in social sciences and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in youth development and counseling. 
"Hopefully I get a shot to play pro ball; that'd be my first thing," said Conlon when asked about his future plans. "So we'll see what happens here in about a month. If that doesn't work out, I'm in graduate school right now. Hopefully, I'm going to segue that into coaching; stick around baseball in some facet."
A special player, Conlon's impact on the Wildcat baseball program over the years and with this year's team has been nothing but positive, and his leadership will be missed.
"Shane, he's very important to us," said head coach Brad Hill. "He's got 200 hits, he's been a part of a couple regionals, a Big 12 Championship, and then, unfortunately, he's been a part of a team that hasn't been so successful. So, he's seen it all. He's a guy that's been a great leader for us. It's going to be really hard next year to not write his name in the lineup and to not see him around."
As the 2015 season continues to edge closer to its end - the Wildcats conclude the regular season with a trip to Kansas next weekend - the Bat Cats have their hopes set on the postseason.
The Big 12 Championship takes place May 20-24, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and only the conference's top eight teams qualify. If the K-State (24-25, 8-11 Big 12) finishes out the regular season on a strong note, it should be on track for a spot at ONEOK Field. 
"The big thing for this year and this group of guys is I want to get them to the Big 12 tournament because not a lot of guys have played there," he continued. "There are a couple of guys from the 2013 team, and that was their first time, but I've been there two times. I want to get those guys there and see what it is like to play in the postseason because if you get hot at the end of the year, anything can happen."
For the second time in his career, K-State pitcher Nate Griep tossed a three-hit shutout against Oklahoma as the right-hander led the Wildcats to a 5-0 win on Friday at Tointon Family Stadium to open a three-game series.
Griep threw his second complete game of the season and third of his career with the help of an efficient 106 pitches over the nine innings, including five frames in which he threw 10 or less. The redshirt sophomore, who tossed a complete game earlier this year on February 19 against Utah, also struck out three while walking two in his fifth win of the season.
"We needed a big outing out of Nate," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "That was huge for us. We have our backs against the wall right now and for him to come out and give us that effort was just outstanding. We challenged him a lot after last week, and I thought he really settled down and pitched a really good ballgame."
For the box score, photos and more about last night's game, please click here

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