06-28 cade conway

After a dominating high school career, North Lamar Panther Cade Conway will play baseball collegiately for Weatherford College. Pictured, he follows through on his swing in a game against Caddo Mills.

From a young age, Cade Conway has lived and breathed baseball. Now, after a dominating career on the diamond for the North Lamar Panthers, Conway is ready to test his mettle against even tougher competition for Weatherford College.

For as long as Conway can remember, he’s been around the game of baseball. Some of his earliest memories include catches with his father, and working on his swing. As soon as he was old enough to play competitively, he joined a team. And similarly, he joined a travel league team as soon as he could.

“I just fell in love with it right away,” he said. “The competitive aspect really appealed to me.”

It was when Conway was in middle school, he said, that he realized he wanted to pursue a competitive career in baseball past high school, and his dedication to the game was solidified.

“At that point, I just really began to work hard because I know I wanted to play collegiately, so I really set my mind to it to reach that goal,” he said.

Conway was able to find a good deal of success during his first two seasons. However, he said his game improved by leaps and bounds during his junior campaign by focussing on improving his mentality, along with help from head coach Bric Steed.

“I’d always just relied on my skill assets until my junior year,” Conway said. “That’s when I took my mindset to the next level. Coach Steed gave me some books to read that really helped me improve my mental game.”

Among the books he read was “With Winning in Mind” by Lanny Bassham. Conway said the book focuses on three key aspects to a strong mentality: self-image, consciousness and the subconscious.

After Steed helped him focus on his mentality, Conway said he saw noticeable improvements in his game, and it showed with a truly impressive stat line during his junior year.

That season, Conway boasted a batting average of .558 to go along with 27 RBIs, 25 runs of his own, 19 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases. In all, his dominant play led to him sharing Red River Valley MVP honors, along with then-teammate Alec Asay.

And though his senior season was cut disappointingly short due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Conway seemed poised for another stellar season. Through March 12, Conway led the Panthers in batting average, hits, RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He was also second on the team in runs.

“Cade has an ability to hit that’s truly unique,” Steed said. “He has a special ability to see the ball and his skillset there is at an incredibly high level. His talent as a batter is as good as anyone I’ve ever coached.”

Conway said he was drawn to Weatherford during the recruiting process due to the school’s reputation as a top team in its conference and the strong coaching staff. However, he doesn’t plan on staying there for his entire collegiate career.

“My goal is to play there for a year or two and then transfer to a Division 1 school,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind playing at a lot of different schools, but one of the ones I’d really like to go to is Texas A&M.”

While at Weatherford, Conway will have the opportunity to play against fellow Panther Trent Smith, who will be pitching for North Central Texas College, which is in the same conference. Conway said he’s looking forward to those matchups.

“I’m looking forward to those games, and it’ll mean a little something extra to get a hit off of him,” Conway said with a laugh. “We’re friends, so it’s always good to see him, and we like to give each other a hard time in a good natured way.”

And beyond college, Conway said he hopes to continue his baseball career even further and one day play professionally.

“If I keep a good head and I focus on my goals, it’s definitely something I think i can achieve,” he said.

Looking back on his time with North Lamar, Conway said he owes a great deal to the role Steed has played not just in his development as a baseball player, but off the field as well.

“Coach Steed has given me so much knowledge, not just in baseball, but in life,” he said. “He’s helped me be a better person and I don’t know where I’d be without him.”

Conway also said he’ll miss the bond formed with his teammates over the last several years.

“We were a special group,” he said. “We developed a bond like nothing else I’ve been a part of.”

Looking to the future, though, he said he’s ready for the challenges that lay ahead.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to improve and test myself at the next level,” Conway said. “I’m just excited to be able to play more baseball.”

Tommy Culkin is a staff writer for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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