HOLLY SPRINGS – The Coastal Plain League announced this afternoon that Morehead City head coach Sam Carel (pictured left, courtesy of SET Photography) has been named the 2023 CPL Coach of the Year.
“On behalf of Marlins nation, I am grateful to the Coastal Plain League for this recognition,” said Carel. “To me, this is a people’s award as success at this level doesn’t happen without multiple people being involved – our players, assistant coaches (Smitty and Gould), ownership, scouting department, front office staff, interns, host families, grounds crew, and of course, the best fans in the CPL. I also want to thank my family, including my boys, Max and Chuckles, plus my family at St. Mary’s South Side Catholic High School in St Louis for all of their support as we spend summer living the baseball dream in Morehead City.”
Back at the helm of the Marlins for his second consecutive season in 2023, Carel had his team playing well from the start, including a 9-game winning streak that put them in first place midway through the first half of the season. From there, the team cruised to a 16-8 record and the East Division First Half title, which also secured them a playoff spot.
The second half saw some more competitive pushes by division foes, but Carel continued to have his guys prepared and limited their losses where they could. In fact, the Marlins only lost consecutive games twice all season – two straight once in the first half and three consecutive contests in the second half. Following the All-Star break, Morehead City looked to secure home field advantage in the postseason, increasing their play down the stretch. Notching eight wins in their final 10 games, Carel saw his team not only take the East Division Second Half crown, but finish with the league’s best regular season record at 32-15.
From there, the story went a route not preferred by Carel, as Morehead City was eliminated in the East Division Championship Series, two games to one at the hands of the Wilmington Sharks. However, the win in game one of the series gave the Marlins 33 wins on the season, which was the most for a club in 2023, but also left Carel hungry for 2024.
“Our goal is to win another Petitt Cup Championship,” stated Carel. “I am beyond grateful to (owner) Buddy Bengel to bring me back into the league last year. It is our goal to give him, our staff and loving fans the proper thanks by once again hoisting the cup on the Crystal Coast.”
For Bengel, this honor is fitting for Carel, both his coach and friend.
“As an organization, I cannot express what Sam Carel has meant to the Marlins,” said Bengel. “He is truly the peoples champ. Sam is the hardest working coach and we are lucky to have him leading this organization on the field. From the players and staff to the fans, he is well respected and loved. We are thankful and proud of what he has brought to this organization, and this award is well deserved.”
Overall, the Marlins led the league on the mound with a 4.09 team ERA, while finishing with a .260 team batting average. Carel not only saw seven of his players named CPL All-Stars, but he also was selected as the head coach of the East squad and guided them to an 8-6 10-inning victory.
About Coastal Plain League:
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. The CPL is currently comprised of 14 franchises playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. To date, the CPL has had nearly 1,750 alumni drafted and 181 alums make their Major League debut. Most notable alumni include Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis, Chris Taylor, Alec Bohm, Jake Cave, Chas McCormick and NFL Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok @CPLBaseball.