August 14, 2022

KU signee Van Cleave named Gatorade Player of the Year

The Gatorade Company named Kansas baseball signee Conner VanCleave the Gatorade Kansas Baseball Player of the Year Tuesday, May 30, after he led his team to the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Class 4A DII State Baseball Championship on Friday, May 26.

“We are thrilled for Conner and his family,” Kansas head coach Ritch Price said. “He is a great athlete who led his team to state championships in both basketball and baseball. This is a well-deserved honor and a great way for him to cap off his outstanding high school career.”

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound senior left-handed pitcher and first baseman led the Holcomb High School Longhorns to a 19-2 overall record with staggering numbers on the hill. VanCleave compiled an 8-1 mark on the mound featuring a 0.29 ERA in 48 and 2/3 innings pitched. Of the 186 batters he faced, he struck out 101, including a dominating 15 K’s over a complete seven-inning game against Nickerson in the state semifinal contest.

As a hitter, VanCleave finished the season with 43 hits in 56 at bats for a .768 batting average. Of his 43 hits, he hit 18 singles, 14 doubles, six triples and five home runs. He drove in 53 RBIs and scored 25 runs while maintaining a 1.500 slugging percentage and an .831 on-base percentage.

A member of the National Honor Society and Students Against Destructive Decisions, VanCleave has served as a student leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and as a youth baseball coach. He maintained a 3.64 grade-point average (GPA) in the classroom throughout his four years of high school.

VanCleave joins recent Gatorade Kansas Baseball Players of the Year Riley Pint (2015-16 & 2014-15, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School), Braden Minor (2013-14, Eisenhower High School), Ryan Colombo (2012-13, Seaman High School), Collin Wiles (2011-12, Blue Valley West High School), Conner Knight (2010-11, Maize High School), Cody Kukuk (2009-10, Free State High School), Garrett Gould (2008-09, Maize High School), Lee Ridenhour (2007-08, Shawnee Mission West High School), and Derek Norris (2006-07, Goddard High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.