I was out of pocket Saturday, helping one of my sons move into a new house, so I didn’t catch the news about Kirk McCarty’s injury until I arrived in the office around 6 p.m.
Shortly before halftime of the Bernard Blackwell North-South All-Star Game at Gulfport, McCarty, the talented Oak Grove quarterback who was playing for the South, was tackled after scrambling and suffered a leg injury.
Turns out he broke a leg, had surgery to repair the damage that night and will be out of action until at least April.
It is quite ironic that McCarty’s football playing career began with a broken leg suffered by then-Warrior Steven Swindle, forcing the sophomore into action.
At any rate, the injury is a big blow to Oak Grove’s hopes of adding a Class 6A baseball state championship to the one the Warriors won in football a few weeks ago.
Still a contender
With McCarty, a left-hander with a full array of pitches, Oak Grove is head and shoulders the favorite to win 6A in baseball. Without him, the Warriors aren’t quite that good. But the situation isn’t hopeless, either.
Head coach Chris McCardle still has hard-throwing Taylor Braley, who now becomes the ace of the staff, and there are a couple of other kids with the potential to step up and keep Oak Grove going on the mound until McCarty’s return, notably senior John Carter Sanner and junior J.C. Keys.
Actually, McCarty’s absence may hurt Oak Grove more on offense and in the field. He is a reliable left-handed bat in the leadoff or 2-hole positions, a table-setter for some of the bigger bats in the Warriors’ batting order. And when he’s not pitching, he’s a steady outfielder with range.
A real competitor
McCarty wasn’t even out of surgery before the experts on Twitter started chiming in, including one that argued that Scott Berry had to be disgusted at the turn of events, with the injury coming in an all-star game.
McCarty has already signed with Southern Miss, and the thinking is that Berry, the Golden Eagles’ coach, wouldn’t want one of his prize recruits getting hurt in an exhibition game.
I disagree with that thinking, although fear of just that sort of injury was undoubtedly one reason McCarty seriously considered not playing football this fall.
But he’s a competitor, and once he made up his mind to play, he was all in. And, truthfully, he could have been hurt on any one of the 439 passes he threw for Oak Grove this season or one of the 85 times he ran the ball.
And being invited to play in one of the all-star games is a signal honor for any senior football player in this state. It stamps you as one of the elite players in all of Mississippi, and I doubt he even considered not going to Gulfport.
No doubt, this injury is a setback for McCarty and for the Oak Grove baseball team, and it will test both his resolve and that of his teammates to see if they can get past it.
Contact Stan Caldwell at (601) 584-3137.