Blakley headed to Missouri Western
Conn Blakley remembers the hot afternoons and the frigid nights that accompanied playing baseball for nine months each year when he was growing up in Chandler, Okla.
He remembers wondering if the effort was worth it on some of those bitter evenings when his fingers were almost too numb to jam into his baseball glove.
"I remember I played a game in a sweatshirt, a turtleneck, a T-shirt and then my jersey," he recalled. "And then we had jackets on. The field was right near a lake, so it was windy, too."
Blakley eventually got away from Chandler when he moved to Lansing while he was in seventh grade. During his time here, his love of the game grew.
Now he'll take his skills to the college level at Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Mo.
"I've been wanting to do this since I was in coach-pitch in Oklahoma," Blakley said of the opportunity to play college baseball. "I've been dreaming of going to college to play baseball since I can first remember. I've always wanted to do that. I'm finally getting the opportunity."
Blakley said he owed plenty of thanks to Cavalry head coach and LHS assistant Jake Hanson for getting him into college in the first place.
"He's been a big part of all of this," Blakley said. "He's probably the only reason I got into college because he's the one who got me all the tryouts."
Once Hanson arranged the tryouts, though, it was up to Blakley to perform.
"I had an amazing tryout," Blakley said of his workout last month at Missouri Western. "I don't think I made one error. I blocked everything and made some pretty good throws. My hitting's probably what really got it for me."
Hitting and defense were strong points for Blakley all spring with the Lansing High varsity squad as he helped the Lions to a 16-6 record and an appearance in the sub-state championship game. He continued his solid play throughout the summer with the Cavalry.
Blakley also was a solid pitcher during his career. The hard-throwing right-hander consistently tossed in the low 80-mile-per-hour range and got better at the end of the season when he recovered from a hand injury.
Blakley is expected to play third base, pitch and be a designated hitter at Missouri Western. He will redshirt during his freshman year, however, while he adjusts to the program and gets stronger.
"I'll get to see all of the upperclassmen, all of the seniors in my positions, and I'll get to watch them play and learn from them," he said.
Western didn't have any remaining scholarships to offer this year because Blakley signed so late in the summer, but he will be with the program as an invited walk-on. He said that if he maintains a 3.0 grade-point-average and continues to show improvement on the field, then he could earn a scholarship next year.
"I've got to bust my butt to get anywhere," Blakley said.
He said that shouldn't be a problem, though. He said playing baseball helped him be more organized and maintain his focus in the classroom.
"If I was in season, my grades were perfect," Blakley said. "It helped keep me on track."