Longtime Northwest Mississippi Community College head baseball coach Mark Carson was inducted into the inaugural class of the Independence High School Athletic Hall of Fame over the weekend.
Carson was a four-year letterman in baseball and three-year letter winner in football and basketball at IHS, graduating from the school in 1987. He was named team MVP in all three sports his senior year and was also president of the senior class and elected Mr. Independence High School.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized at a place where I grew up and continue to love until this day,” Carson said. “I had outstanding teachers, coaches, classmates and teammates that made Independence a very special place.”
Carson enters his 12th season as the head coach of the Rangers, guiding the program to seven straight postseason appearances, including three MACJC championship game appearances in the last six seasons.
His overall record with the Rangers stands at 320-225-2 (.587) and 176-81 (.684) against north division and conference opponents with a pair of division championships and three MACJC runner-up finishes. Since Carson took over in 2006, the Rangers have won 30 games in five of his previous 11 seasons and have finished with a winning record in 10 consecutive seasons.
Carson surpassed the 300-win plateau on March 16, 2016 with a split on the road at Holmes. He is only the second coach in program history with 300-plus victories, ranking second on Northwest’s all-time wins list behind the legendary Jim Miles (556).
Carson was named the Region XXIII Coach of the Year in 2007 after leading the Rangers to a third NJCAA World Series appearance. Northwest ended the ’07 campaign with a 40-17 (14-2 MACJC) record and fourth place overall finish in NJCAA Division II.
Carson and his staff have also been instrumental in developing players and helping them get to the next level, both collegiately and professionally, with 84 moving onto four-year schools and 10 being drafted by Major League Baseball during his tenure.
Before taking over as head coach in 2006, Carson served as assistant coach for the Rangers for eight seasons from 1998-2005. During that span, Carson helped lead Northwest to a 271-120-4 record alongside head coach Donny Castle, capturing four north division championships (’99, ’00, ’02, ’05) and a state championship in 2000.
Prior to Northwest, Carson spent six seasons as head baseball coach and defensive coordinator at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis. In 1997, Carson led the baseball team to a 23-8 mark and claimed the District-15AA Championship. He ended his tenure with a career mark of 93-52 and was twice named district Coach of the Year. Carson was inducted into the Briarcrest Hall of Fame in 2013.
A 1989 graduate of Northwest, Carson saw action on the mound and at third base for the Rangers during his career. A two-time all-state selection, Carson hit .323 for his career with seven home runs and also went 7-3 on the mound with a 3.03 ERA. He was voted team captain his sophomore season, playing in the JUCO All-Star Game and being selected as an NJCAA Academic All-American.
Carson went on to play his final two seasons at Southern Mississippi, where he recorded an 18-5 record on the mound over two years, including an 11-2 record as a senior – the second most wins in USM single-season history.
He was named to the All-Metro Conference Commissioner’s List in 1991 as well as team captain, and also received Academic All-American recognition. He went on to sign a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Reds in 1991, playing one season for its minor league affiliate.
Courtesy of Kevin Maloney and NWCC Sports Information