PORT ANGELES — On a roster laden with talent, Port Angeles’ versatile left fielder Carson Jackson focuses on doing his job for the Olympic League champion, state-bound Roughriders.
And that’s been plenty for Port Angeles (18-4), which has reached the 16-team state bracket and will face Mountlake Terrace in the single-elimination Class 2A state baseball tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday at Joe Martin Stadium in Bellingham.
Jackson is hitting .333 with a .460 on-base percentage, a .536 slugging percentage and a .996 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) which compares favorably to the best numbers in the major leagues (The Angels’ Mike Trout led MLB with a 1.071 OPS in 2017). He hit a solo home run, his first of the season, to tie the score against Highline late in the third/fourth-place game at districts last weekend, and scored the winning run, his 32nd of the season, in the Riders’ 4-3 win.
“It’s so cool to see when your more talented players are also your hardest working and your most genuinely excited about coming to the yard every day,” Riders coach Karl Myers said of Jackson.
“That’s one thing he really has the ability to is take the situation out of the picture and just do his job. And that’s scoring a runner from third by putting the ball in play or gapping the ball and finding second for us. He’s really done a good job of being able to separate the game from his task.”
Effort and enthusiasm have been hallmarks of the leadoff hitter’s approach to his senior season in green and white.
“This is a group that does such a good job of showing up and really focusing,” Myers said. “But sometimes we get a little quite and need to bring a little energy to it, a little tempo. And all Carson needs is a little look and there it goes.
“Any player that is as dynamic athletically as he is is a boost, but he brings a certain energy whether its 5:30 a.m. and we are getting on the bus to drive to a game, he’s ready to go and he’s excited. And its genuine. A lot of teams can get in trouble because their guys try and fake it, but everything he does is 100 percent who he is.”
Jackson said he approached his senior season with a focus on fulfilling his and his team’s potential.
“I wanted to come in and have a great season and have fun in my last year here,” he said. “To win league, which we did, win districts — which didn’t go exactly how we planned but we still rallied [to beat Highline for the third seed to state] and we will see how state goes. We’ve made it every year I’ve been here [in the program] and that’s an accomplishment.”
Jackson added another accomplishment Thursday when he was voted second-team All-Olympic League.
Myers said Jackson worked his way into a starting role in the outfield last season.
“His contributions were mostly defensive,” Myers said. “I think he hit .300 in league last year but he didn’t have a lot of the eye-popping secondary numbers that he has put up this year. He’s always been a guy that been’s dangerous at the dish because he can really run. That was kind of his role last year and he did really good job in that role.
“The change this year is he really worked hard in the weight room and got stronger and started to become a big-time threat to do a lot of different things. Carson’s capable of everything from hitting a ball out of the yard to laying down a drag bunt and beating it out. It’s pretty fun to see.”
And Jackson’s always willing to do what’s best for his team.
“He can do a whole bunch of different stuff and its cool to see him as a player really try to utilize all of his tools,” Myers said.
“He hit a ball out [for a home run] against Highline and the next time up he comes to bat he asks me if it would be a good idea to lay down a bunt. I’m thinking, for you its a good option, but you just hit the ball 350 feet, it might be a good idea to swing away and end this thing.”
Jackson signed to play college ball with Shoreline before his senior season started.
“I think that was huge for him and took that pressure off of him from having to try to perform for some external factor, ‘Oh, I need to go up to the plate and do something so I can get a scholarship,” Myers said.
“It really helped ease his mind and enjoy the last rodeo with his boys and do something they hadn’t done in a while. [Olympic League champions] And in 20 to 30 years he can walk into the gym, see 2018 on the banner and be proud of what he accomplished.”
“I wasn’t worried about trying to impress schools, I could let loose and have fun,” he said.
He’ll join former Riders’ teammate Dane Bradow on the Dolphins, along with Forks’ Chance Wilson who also signed this season. Those three and North Kitsap’s Cole Milyard all played for Wilder Baseball last summer, so Jackson should have a jumpstart on adjusting to community college baseball.
“I’m excited about that,” Jackson said. ” I’ll know a couple of kids over there. It’ll be awesome.”
But first, a chance to keep doing his job for Port Angeles, wherever and whenever the need arises.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]