The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 31, 2013

American Legion baseball: West Snyder star earns Misavage Award

Daily Item

---- — By Harold Raker

The Daily Item

More often than not in baseball, like in most sports, he who works the hardest reaps the most and biggest rewards.

Throughout the 2013 American Legion baseball season, center fielder Shane Connahan, playing for the Erman E. Lepley Post 23 of West Snyder, was one of those who worked at his game.

Those efforts led the Midd-West High School senior to have one of the best seasons of any player in the Susquehanna Valley and West Branch leagues, and resulted in his selection as The Daily Item Richard "Gus" Misavage Most Valuable Player Award.

Connahan, son of Charlie and Marla Connahan, of Beavertown, still has one more high school baseball season left, and then he will take his talents south to Murfreesboro, Tenn., where he will play for Division I Middle Tennessee State.

In 19 games this past season, Connahan batted .407 (22-of-51) with an on-base percentage of .514. He scored 11 runs, had two doubles, a triple and nine RBIs. He drew 11 walks and was hit by pitch three other times.

West Snyder manager Chris Combs was not surprised at the outstanding season Connahan had this year. "Shane has over the years been the hardest working (player) at baseball that I've seen in a young man. He was constantly working before practice and after games or after practices, working on his game, hitting and fielding.

"He is very dedicated to it," he said.

Connahan, who also plays middle infield, said his goal has always been to play college baseball, especially Division I.

He used to play basketball and golf, but, although he still occasionally plays golf, baseball is the sport to which he has devoted his full attention.

"I enjoy the whole game. I love everything about it," he said.

The outstanding Legion numbers followed a couple of down years (by his standards) in high school after Connahan was a first-team Daily Item all-star as a sophomore.

"I was injured coming into my junior year and everything stated off slow, but toward the end it started picking up and it just followed into the legion season, and it never stopped," the Mustang senior said.

Connahan is not yet sure of his major in college, but he knows it will be sports related.

"I want to coach college baseball," he said.

At Middle Tennessee State, he will have company, as his older sister, Laura Connahan Ott, a senior who plans to continue at the school next year as she pursues a medical degree.

"I looked at a lot of schools and a lot of doors closed, but then doors started to open toward the end,"{ he said of his commitment two weeks ago to Middle Tennessee State.

He was glad to make the early decision. "It was so stressful, but now the stress is gone," the 18-year-old said.

But, in addition to the baseball, and having family there, his big draw to the school was something that seems important right now as the temperatures dip to and below freezing.

"I like the warm weather," he said.

Connahan, while too young to have known about Misavage, said of the award, "I was very honored to get it. I didn't come into the season knowing I was going to have the year that I did, and I'm happy that everything played out the way it did."

Misavage was a longtime Milton Legion manager who died in the offseason between the 1990 and 1991 seasons. The Daily Item has given the award in his name every year since 1991.

The hard work, which was a top priority of Misavage as a Legion manager, has made it possible for Connahan to be where he is, according to Combs.

"I expected Shane to have a good year because he does put so much time into his game, and it turned out he really had a super year this year. There are very few (players) who put all the time in and that work as hard as Shane has, and it paid off.

"And, with his work ethic, it will continue to pay off," Combs said.