KANSAS CITY, Mo. | Park University third baseman and AMC Baseball Player of the Year Kyle Clifton, a junior from Independence, Mo., was one of the 35 NAIA baseball players named honorable mention All-American by the NAIA baseball coaches Monday afternoon.
Clifton hit .366 in 46 games in 2012, leading the American Midwest Conference in both home runs (13) and RBIs (54). Those totals also registered in Park University's single-season top 10 record book, and his 18 career home runs are five shy of the Pirates' all-time career record for homers.
Posting a .481 on-base percentage, Clifton drew a Park-record 31 walks in 2012, touching a team-high 111 bases for a .766 slugging percentage. He also scored 45 runs and posted 30 total extra-base hits, connecting on 15 doubles and two triples to go with his 13 homers.
In the field, Clifton compiled a .913 fielding percentage at third base, making 11 errors in 126 chances while also adding 30 putouts and 85 infield assists.
"Kyle's got lofty offensive numbers, but what's maybe more impressive is the way he's picked up third base in the last two seasons," said head coach Cary Lundy. "This year was only his second year as a full-time third baseman, and a lot of people thought he'd be a catcher when he came to us from Crowder. This is a great honor for Kyle, for Park and for the AMC to have his accomplishments recognized by the NAIA."
Clifton is a career .362 hitter in a Park uniform with a .708 career slugging percentage, driving in 82 runs in his two seasons with the Pirates. He has also drawn 52 career walks, which ranks second behind Ryan Weedin's 86 in four years as a Pirate. He is also second behind Weedin in career triples (5) and in the top 10 with 25 career doubles.
"Our record book has a real chance to look a lot different offensively with Kyle as a senior next year," Lundy said. "We need him to be our leader again next year to be successful."
Park was 26-20 in Clifton's junior season, finishing second in the American Midwest Conference behind regular-season champion Missouri Baptist University. The Pirates were 16-8 in conference games, including a late-season series win over William Woods University that helped the Pirates capture second place. In that series, Clifton was 8-for-13 at the plate with three homers and 11 RBIs. He also came up big in the Pirates' near upset of Missouri Baptist in the AMC tournament, belting a late three-run homer to tie the game at 11-11 before the Pirates ultimately fell in 10 innings. Clifton was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs in the game.