KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Five Park University baseball players earned the highest academic honor awarded by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, as Matthew Callihan, Cole Doherty, J.D. Williams, Tim Schaareman, and Connor Whitney were named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
In all, 383 student-athletes from NAIA baseball programs were honored, including the nation's highest total, from inside the American Midwest Conference, as 11 players were honored from William Woods University. In order to be nominated by an institution's head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved junior academic status.
Doherty, from Oak Grove, Missouri, was Park's leader at the plate for much of the season, appearing at both first base and designated hitter in the lineup with a .333 batting average and seven doubles. He was also Park's closer for the first half of the season with four saves. In three seasons, he struck out 45 batters.
Two scholar-athletes have eligibility for next year, as junior shortstop Tim Schaareman and junior outfielder Connor Whitney were on the list. Whitney, a Kansas City native, hit .315 in 39 games for the Pirates, driving in 18 with eight doubles and three triples.
Park's only international player on the list, Schaareman (from The Netherlands), was Park's iron man, at shortstop, playing and starting in all 47 games, batting .329 with 29 RBIs, 13 doubles, four triples, and a team-best four home runs. He was also the AMC's Gold Glove shortstop, fielding .937 in 221 chances, committing only 14 errors on the season.
Callihan, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, was a one-year player for the Pirates, earning his only at-bat in a split doubleheader with Graceland University, while Williams had his career cut short by injury at the end of the 2016 season, but still had eligibility this year and was part of the program. Williams, from Liberty, Missouri, finished his career with two seasons on the mound for the Pirates, compiling a 3.17 ERA and an 8-5 record in 88 innings, striking out 85 batters between 2015 and 2016.
To learn more about the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete, click here.