May 2, 2008

High And Inside With...Ryan Conan

May 2, 2008

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Before his heroic antics on the diamond Monday night against No. 3 Stanford, Santa Clara baseball senior captain Ryan Conan checked in with SantaClaraBroncos.com to talk about the season thus far, adjusting to the new collegiate schedule and what helps him unwind.

SantaClaraBroncos.com: What are your thoughts on the season thus far?
Ryan Conan:
We started out really well. We hit a little bump in the road midway through, but now we're starting to get back on track, playing better baseball and playing the game better. We're just trying to take one game at a time.

SCB: As a senior captain on the team, what do you see your role as?
RC:
Just being another extension of the coaching staff and leading by example. [Jeff] Lombard and [Gabe] Alcantar do a great job as well and it really helps having two other guys who are great leaders and great players.

SCB: What goes through your mind during the up and down process of the season being that it's your last season? What is it like to ride this wave right now?
RC:
I just try and take it one game at a time and trying to win every game as a team. I know that the season is going to come to an end, but if we keep taking it one game at a time hopefully our goals will get reached.

SCB: What has been the hardest thing for you this season?
RC:
Getting used to the new schedule. I personally like it because if you have a good or bad weekend, we get to play Monday or Tuesday. Last year we might have had to wait a week. But balancing that with school has been tough.

SCB: Last year you led the team in home runs and this year it took a little while to just get your first one. Was it a monkey on your back at all?
RC:
It kind of became that, but it was nice to finally get one.

SCB: Is there anybody on the team that has surprised you this season?
RC:
Not really surprising, but I think Thain Simon has been great. I don't want to call him a surprise because we knew what he could do, but he's really stepped up and done a great job pitching for us. [Jon] Karcich and Geoff Klein have had great years. The same goes for Nathan Faulkner coming off an injury and having a tremendous year for us.

SCB: Tell me about the Fresno State game and the dynamic of it.
RC:
It was a rollercoaster game. We got down early, clawed our way back, and then went down five. We just kept on saying, "we're still in this game." We had a great approach at the plate all night and we took a ton of walks. That was key for us. We weren't swinging at bad pitches. We started out kind of doing that early in the game, but then we got back to our good plan and it was really successful because we got a ton of guys on base every inning and we were able to claw back one run at a time. Pitch selection was a key and just taking a good approach.

SCB: Did you play any other sports growing up?
RC:
I played basketball in high school my freshman year and I also swam growing up. My sister swam in college and got me and my brother into swimming. We swam for about six years. But it was mainly baseball.

SCB: As a local guy, was it important for you to stay local?
RC:
I had three high school teammates who came to Santa Clara. I talked with them about how much they loved it, how much they loved OB [head coach Mark O'Brien], the coaching staff and I didn't really see a reason to go anywhere else. It's a great program with a new stadium, a program on the rise and I felt like it was the best place for me. Being close to home is nice and having my parents able to go to most of the games, I was able to reward them and thank them for everything they did for me by staying local.

SCB: What is it like playing with guys in college that you played with and/or against in high school?
RC:
I think it's really good for our team. Me and Donald Brandt played on an all-star team when we were 12 years old and we had no clue until my parents brought it up. We also played three times in the high school playoffs against each other. A lot of times we got back and forth saying things like "I remember when I hit a homerun off of you," and he'll be like, "Well, I remember when I struck you out three times."

SCB: Do you have any pregame rituals?
RC:
I get to the field really early. Most of the guys make fun of me for how early I get there. I like to get there early, clean my cleats, get all my stuff ready, hit off a tee about 25-30 swings, come back in and relax with all the guys before the game.

SCB: What is your favorite thing to do to unwind?
RC:
I like to play videogames with the guys. We like to play Smash Brothers, though it gets a little intense between myself, Matt Wickswat and Justin Kuehn.

SCB: If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be?
RC:
Probably Cal Ripken Jr. I always idolized him growing up. I think he's the kind of baseball player everyone could try to be like. He plays every day, plays hard every day and is just a great human being.

SCB: If we were to turn on your iPod, what would be the top-five most played songs?
RC:
A little Justin Timberlake in there. My number one song would be "Sandstorm." Me and Tommy Medica like to listen to it before every game in the clubhouse. There would be some Timbaland and then there would be some country to unwind.

SCB: What are your post-graduation plans?
RC:
I'd like to see what happens with baseball and then start looking for a job. I don't really know what I want to do yet. I want to stay in the area for sure though.

SCB: Is it weird having Shawn [Epidendio] as one of your coaches now, as someone you played high school and college with?
RC:
I love it. It's someone I'm on the same level with. We can talk about anything. He's very knowledgeable and he's a guy you can easily talk to and connect with because he's a bit younger. But he's also been through everything at Santa Clara that we've been through because he was in the first class with OB. He's just a great guy overall.

SCB: Favorite sport outside of baseball?
RC:
Golf. I like to golf whenever I can. I started golfing with my dad when I was younger, but my freshman year almost every off-day I would go golfing with some of my buddies at this place called "The Ranch," and it would dominate us, but for some reason we kept going back. It just stuck and now I play with Matt Long and Donald.

SCB: How would your teammates describe you in one word?
RC:
Probably bald. [laughs] No, they would probably say passionate.

SCB: The sunglasses for a hat, even during night games? Is that just habit?
RC:
Well, the hat is a little big on me now since I shaved my head, so the sunglasses actually help keep it tighter. It's also that I don't remember I have them on there half the time.