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Quiet Conlisk key for Fordham Rams

Jason Conlisk isn’t the guy barking at his teammates from the top step of the dugout. He’s not the back-slapping, high-fiving presence in the clubhouse some other players are. He doesn’t have the demonstrative demeanor more vocal players possess.

But his play speaks loud enough.

“Jason’s not the most vocal guy on the team,” said Fordham head baseball coach Dan Gallagher of his second baseman. “But he leads in his own way. He’s pretty much a leader by what he does on the field.”

“I’m not really one of those guys that screams and yells all over the field,” said Conlisk, a 1999 Molloy graduate. “I don’t think that’s the way to get things done. I think it’s better to take a person aside and talk to them one-on-one.”

Conlisk, who was part of the 1998 team at Molloy that captured the Catholic High School Athletic Association city championship, has always been a quiet presence on the field and in the clubhouse, said his high school coach Jack Curran.

“He’s very quiet,” said the venerable Curran, a veteran of more than 40 years on the bench. “He never says anything. He just goes about his game.”

Conlisk was a versatile presence on the Molloy team in his two years playing for the varsity, playing all around the infield — mostly at shortstop — as well as even doing a little pitching. He also led the Stanners in hitting his senior year.

Things have not gotten any worse for Conlisk.

As Fordham closed out its 23-28 season with a sweep of Duquesne, the sophomore second baseman established himself as one of the premier players at his position in the Atlantic-10 Conference. While making the adjustment to Division I-caliber pitching has sometimes been an uphill battle, Conlisk has been a quick study in making the transition from a high school shortstop to a college-level second baseman.

“He’s probably the best second baseman in the Atlantic-10 Conference,” said Gallagher. “His defense is second to none. He’s as quick as anybody we’ve ever had here turning the double play, and he’s just so smooth.”

“Defense is something I take a lot of pride in,” said Conlisk. “That’s something I work on a lot, especially because I started off as an outfielder in high school. I strive to be the best I can be (defensively).”

Conlisk’s play at the plate has been noteworthy, as well, as the sophomore batted .317 while driving in 29 runs and swiping 13 stolen bases in sixteen attempts in his second season at the collegiate level. The Ridgewood native gives the Rams some flexibility in their line-up with his ability to hit from both sides of the plate.

“He’s done it all for us this year,” said Gallagher. “He’s really swung the bat really well.”

Conlisk lauded the foundation set by the Molloy coaching staff during his four years at the Briarwood school, especially praising the individual instruction put forth during his two-year stint on the junior varsity team under coach Jerry Albert.

“My freshmen and sophomore years were the most important years at Molloy [for baseball development],” said Conlisk. “[Coach Albert] was really hands-on and worked with guys individually. That helped me out a lot.”

As Gallagher did with Conlisk, the Fordham program has shown a willingness to dip into the CHSAA talent pool to pluck players from the Queens high schools.

“We’ve always had a couple of kids from St. Francis Prep, as well as McClancy and Christ the King,” Gallagher said. “We always look at the league.”

As Conlisk’s sophomore campaign comes to a close, the second baseman has some ambitious goals in his sights.

“I would like to try and make it to the next level,” Conlisk said. “But I don’t want to take anything for granted. I want to leave it all on the field. I don’t want to have any regrets.”

“He handles himself real well,” Gallagher said. “He’s just a great kid. I’d love to have 10 more of him on my team. But maybe one would be a screamer.”

Reach contributing writer Brian Towey by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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