Big 12 Campus Correspondent
The 2013 baseball season was a standout year for K-State first baseman Shane Conlon.
The Naperville, Ill., native ended his redshirt sophomore season ranked second in the Big 12 with 56 runs scored, third with 125 total bases, and tied for the team-lead with seven home runs and 25 multi-hit games. He also registered two 15-game hitting streaks, the first of which he batted .450 and drove in 13 runs to start the season.
By the end of K-State’s historical postseason run in 2013, Conlon claimed two honors: All-Big 12 First Team and All-Manhattan Regional Team.
Conlon’s impressive season was just the boost he needed after coming off of an injury that caused him to miss the majority of the 2012 season.
“My sophomore year, I had surgery on my elbow,” said Conlon. “To get back in time for the  season I had a shorter recovery process to just try and play first base and hit, instead of trying to get back on the mound. That was the easiest way, and my best option to get back out there.”
Due to his great offensive and defensive year in 2013 at first base, Conlon was selected in the 21st round of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft by the Kansas City Royals, but chose not to sign and return to K-State for his senior season.
“We just got so close last year in the Super Regional at Oregon State. We were one run away from going to Omaha, and it was just too hard for me to deal with. I wanted one more shot at going all the way,” said Conlon on why he returned for another season.
Conlon helped the Wildcats win a program-record 45 games, claim their first conference title in 80 years, and advance to their first Super Regional.
“It was just great making history,” said Conlon. “You could tell how much the guys on the team wanted to win, and hated to lose. I just think it was awesome to be a part of that and set records for K-State because it has never been done before.”
Baseball was not the only motivation behind returning for another season in the Little Apple, as Conlon expressed that the atmosphere K-State has to offer is like no other.
“I love going to football and basketball games. Manhattan is just a great town to live in because there are such good people here. I have been here for four years and there is really no place I have been that is like Manhattan. I think it is the family atmosphere that everyone talks about,” Conlon said.
Conlon further explained that he and his roommate and teammate, Ross Kivett, never miss a K-State basketball game. They love being in the atmosphere K-State fans provide.
“I’ve been living with Ross for four years, and we have always just clicked,” said Conlon. “We help each other on the field if we notice something is going wrong. We will talk to each other about it. Playing second base and first base allows us to have pretty good chemistry, which I am sure stems from our off off-the-field friendship as well.”
Kivett is a senior second baseman for K-State, who was also drafted after the 2013 season. Kivett was selected by the Cleveland Indians but also decided to return for another year at K-State.
“After living together for so long, our personalities mesh because I am so loud and he’s the complete opposite, being soft-spoken and quiet,” said Kivett jokingly. “Shane is probably one of the funniest guys on our team because of his dry humor that can get people off their rocker with laughs. I am sure it is much more of a pain to live with me than it is to live with him.”
Kivett’s decision to return for his senior season after being drafted was influenced by Conlon’s decision to stay as well.
“I was happy he decided to come back,” said Kivett. “It had a bit of an influence on me, him being my best friend. We came in together, and we are going to go out together. I am just glad he did that for himself and for his family. I know everything will work out for him because of the type of player he is, and the type of person he is.”
Kivett raved about Conlon’s ability to lead by example, saying he is the best hitting coach when assistant coach Mike Clement has his hands full with the rest of the offense. Head coach Brad Hill felt the same way concerning Conlon’s ability to lead.
“Shane is a quiet leader for us,” said Hill. “He is a guy that goes about his business, does everything right and when he does speak, people listen. He’s got the respect of our players. He plays the game hard, he is very unselfish, and he is an encourager. He has some of the traits you look for in a leader. He’s been a vital cog in our ballclub, particularly in the last two years.”
As the 2014 season is underway, K-State started off losing seven of its first eight games, but since has improved their record to 7-7. Those early struggles did not seem to shake Conlon’s confidence.
“I know we have had a bad start, but it is going to turn around,” said Conlon. “I am looking forward to looking back on this and remembering where we were, because I know it is going to start happening for us, and things are going to click. We are going to look back shocked that we started 1-7. It happens, but it is over now.”