LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
There will be a time soon when North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter will have to think about who bats leadoff. He will look in centerfield and see someone other than Marcus Carson. It’s been a long time.
“It will be a depressing time that for sure,” McWhorter said.
Carson has been so busy getting hits and stealing bases that he hasn’t considered the end of his high school career. A career that began five years ago will end abruptly with the next North Laurel loss.
“In eighth grade I didn’t really think I would be where I am right now,” Carson said.
Next season Carson will play for the University of Kentucky. Although he won’t physically be at North Laurel, there will still be plenty of reminders in the record books and in the people he has affected.
“I’ve been lucky over the past 13 years to coach some really good players. When you look at his records they speak for themselves,” McWhorter said.
Carson holds school records for stolen bases, hits, triples, career batting average, career singles, runs scored, games played, innings played, and at bats. He also will end his among the state leaders in stolen bases, batting average and triples. His career average was .409, but has since increased with a stretch of 10 hits in 10 straight at bats. He has 124 stolen bases and counting.
“I didn’t even know I was ranked in the state until they told me the numbers,” Carson said.
It says a lot about who Marcus Carson is that he doesn’t count the numbers himself or that his highlight from playing at North Laurel is just being with his teammates.
“He has an influence on everybody on this team, every single person: coaches, players, everybody,” McWhorter said.
If the team is running foul pole to foul pole it will be Carson that touches the pole first and finishes first. He tries to do his best every day and to win every competition.
“That’s just the drive he has,” McWhorter said.
It’s not just sports where Carson excels. He has never missed a day of school from kindergarten through high school. He has GPA higher than 4.0.
“Every kid in school likes him. Everyone that has ever been around him likes him. I’ve never heard anyone say anything negative about him,” McWhorter said.
The intangibles have helped Carson excel, but McWhorter saw the ability right away. The first thing he noticed was natural instincts that cannot be coached, coupled with the character and work ethic.
“I’ve been coaching here and playing ball my whole life. You see a lot of kids that have the God-given ability that don’t have the work ethic, drive, and desire,” McWhorter said.
Carson credits his dad for the work ethic. Mark and Janet Carson have been at all of their son’s many baseball and basketball games. It is his dad that Carson credits most for his athletic success.
“Just day in and day out watching him work hard trying to make money for me and my sister to do extra things. Watching him makes me want to work hard like him. If he had everything given to him, I probably wouldn’t be the same ballplayer I am today,” Carson said.
Although he hasn’t given much thought to the end of this stage of his career, Carson has been thinking some of the next step.
“I’m been watching (Kentucky) and just thinking I’m going to be out there next year. It kind of blows my mind,” Carson said. “I wouldn’t say it, but my dad would say he thought I would be out there.”
And so did McWhorter when he first saw Carson’s as an eighth grader.
“He can just put the bat on the ball. He’s got 550-some at bats. In five years he’s struck out about 31 times. He’s only struck out twice this year. That means in 500-some at bats he’s put the ball in play,” McWhorter said. “That’s what you want to see are kids to reach their potential.”