Prep Baseball: Davie's Herndon resigns
By Mike London
MOCKSVILLE — Mike Herndon, who has officially resigned as Davie County baseball coach after 14 seasons, has a masters degree in self-deprecating humor and can deliver a punchline.
“Had a dang Division I pitcher, this 6-foot-4 kid, but I was so dumb I played him at shortstop,” Herndon drawls.
Of course, there were extenuating circumstances behind that “dumbness.”
For one thing, Davie had more D-I pitchers than it had innings for them to pitch. For another thing, that tall, live-armed, hard-hitting shortstop was Carson Herndon — Mike’s son.
Now 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, Carson is a rising sophomore at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He’s a potential star down the road because he’s not just big. His fastball is in the 90-mph range and he’s got a nasty slider.
Carson is hurling this summer for the Forest City Owls of the wood bat Coastal Plain League.
“Carson is really working at pitching and he’s getting a lot better, but it’s not like he’s got it all figured out yet,” Mike joked. “But that’s his high school coach’s fault. Guy only pitched him one inning.”
Carson is the reason Mike has resigned as Davie’s baseball coach. In a nutshell, he wants to watch his son’s games. He wants to be there to follow Carson’s progress live, not just via texts, phone calls and newspaper reports.
Sometimes Carson does great things. In his first start for Liberty he pitched five shutout innings against James Madison. For the season, he was 3-1 in 13 appearances.
“My wife (Carol) retired from Food Lion last summer and she followed Liberty for 45 games, made the road trips even,” Herndon said. “This year I want to be there to support not just our son but that baseball program. That’s important to us. That’s a part of what you’re supposed to do.”
Herndon, a native of High Point, also has a 13-year-old daughter (Bailey). His first coaching opportunity came at High Point Andrews, and he advanced from there to Southwest Guilford.
His SW Guilford team won the 2A state championship in 1997. That proved a springboard to the 4A Davie job.
Herndon experienced just one losing season in his 14 years and broke the record for wins by a Davie baseball coach. His career mark is 211-130 at the helm of the War Eagles. He’s 312-190 counting all his prep coaching stops.
The past two seasons (44-8) have been among the best in school history. Besides Carson Herndon, Davie’s Class of 2011 included standouts Connor Bodenhamer, Alex Newman and Joe Watson. This year’s graduating group is headed by Division I hurlers Corey Randall and Ryan Foster.
“We’ve had really good players and really good people,” Herndon said. “I’ll miss the players, I’ll miss the game and I’ll miss the competition.”
Herndon has resigned only from coaching baseball, not from teaching his strength and conditioning classes at Davie or helping out with his third love besides family and baseball — football.
Carson was a good enough quarterback to lead Davie to the 4A championship game his senior year, and the gridiron’s hold on Mike is still strong. He’ll be coaching Davie’s linebackers again this season.
A lot of good linebackers have marched through the program, but Herndon has only one son. He can’t bear to miss any more of his games.
“Halfway through this baseball season, I knew I just could not do it again,” he said. “I didn’t want to look back three years from now with a bunch of regrets. So I’ll take a three-year hiatus from coaching baseball, and we’ll just see where the journey goes.”
Herndon is only 47, so he’ll still have good coaching years left after his self-imposed “hiatus” ends. As far as his successor for 2013, AD Mike Absher will make that call.
“I’ve got three capable assistants and I do hope they stay within,” Herndon said. “We’ve run a tight ship, done things the right way and won our share.”