Sports Spotlight: Conner VanCleave

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 9:08 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Conner VanCleave is in his second season with the Badlands Big Sticks.

After missing the college spring season due to an elbow injury, returning to North Dakota was an easy decision.

“When I knew I wasn’t going to get that many at bats during the spring I knew I was going to get a lot of bats here so the ability to get that many at bats was huge for me,” said VanCleave.

In his first season in Dickinson, VanCleave led the team in RBI’s and had the second most home runs.

Mason Schwellenbach has seen that production roll over into this season.

“He is a really good hitter. He knows his way around the plate and he balls and strikes he can battle of anything and sometimes he might have some ugly swings but don’t count him out because the next pitch he could hit a home run or a nice double and that’s the one thing I learned about him last year. He’s got a lot of tools as well and he’s a really good first basemen, one of the best I’ve seen,” said Schwellenbach, Big Sticks pitcher.

That production earned VanCleave a spot on the Expedition League All-Star team last summer plus his experience as a Kansas Jayhawk makes VanCleave a great mentor.

“I think he’s an absolutely fantastic leader, especially with the young kids. I think you talk about a guy that’s playing at a power five school he could easily write off those young kids playing at a junior college or an NAI school and he’s taken all of them under his wing and has done such a nice job with them. I can’t say enough good things about Conner,” said Billy Tomblin, Big Sticks head coach.

VanCleave does not know where baseball will take him next, but he does know he’s cherishing his time with the Big Sticks.

“It’s just been a good time, a lot of good memories, a lot of good baseball and just the fun I have had here. It’s just been an exciting time all the time and playing all the baseball here and all the memories you have with the people here,” said VanCleave.

VanCleave’s goal for this summer is to help lead the Big Sticks to another Expedition League Title.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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