MAGNOLIA – Former Scrapper baseball coach Kyle Slayton was inducted into the Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall of Fame Friday, Sept. 30, in the Grand Hall of the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center.
Slayton, six other individual members and two teams were inducted during the ceremony. They were publicly introduced at halftime of the SAU Homecoming game against East Central Oklahoma Saturday, Oct. 1.
Slayton arrived at SAU from Mineola, Texas, and began a baseball journey that would take him throughout southwest Arkansas. At his first stop in Magnolia, Slayton pitched four seasons for hall of fame head coach Steve Goodheart’s Muleriders, before embarking on a prolific high school baseball coaching career in Arkansas.
From 1991 to 1994, Slayton appeared in 68 college games, notched 25 wins, tossed 16 complete games; which are tied for the third-most all-time, and recorded 13 saves while his final three seasons saw the right-hander produce a sub-2.60 ERA each year. He struck out 175 batters in 258.2 career innings pitched.
Slayton’s junior and senior campaigns were two of the best the program had ever seen. The Texan appeared in 46 games across the 1993 and 1994 seasons. He compiled a 17-6 record, went the distance in ten contests and collected 11 of his 13 career saves which at the time of his graduation were a program record and currently rank third in program history. In 159.0 innings pitched, he struck out 128 batters.
He was named an All-AIC and NAIA All-District 17 performer at the conclusion of both seasons, and in ‘94 Slayton earned NAIA All-Southwest Region on his way to becoming an NAIA Honorable Mention All-America selection.
Slayton’s 68 career appearances are tied for the third-most in program history, and only one Mulerider arm had been used more before Slayton’s career. His 25 wins were the second-most all-time and are currently tied for sixth in program history. A career ERA of 2.71 ranks fifth and his 175 strikeouts are seventh most all-time and were the second-highest punchout total at career’s end. Only one pitcher had tossed more than Slayton’s 258.2 innings which currently ranks sixth on the all-time list.
In terms of single-season accolades, Slayton is one of only three pitchers all-time with multiple seasons of 23 or more appearances, and he was the first to do it with his successful ‘93 and ‘94 seasons. His senior season ERA of 2.17 ranks ninth all-time and his seven saves that year matched the program record at the end of season and are currently tied for eighth all-time. Opponents hit .254 off of Slayton which is the ninth-lowest all-time, but ranked second all-time following his senior season.
From Magnolia, Slayton began one of the most dominant high school baseball coaching careers the Natural State has ever seen. He coached for five seasons at Fouke where he led the Panthers to the 1999 Class 3A State Championship.
From there he moved on to Nashville where he would guide the Scrappers for 20 seasons and win Class 4A state titles in 2007, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
He compiled 544 career wins which rank as the third-most all-time in the state of Arkansas regardless of classification, and his five career state titles are second to only Billy Bock’s nine. Four times he was named conference coach of the year. He garnered consecutive ABCA Regional Coach of the Year honors in 2017 and 2018, and he was named the ABCA National High School Coach of the Year in 2018.
Additionally, he assisted the Nashville Scrapper football program and was a part of state title-winning teams in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2015 with the first three coming under fellow SAU Sports Hall of Famer Billy Dawson.
Along with coaching, Slayton also served as a Nashville teacher and was assistant principal at junior high.