The Coastal Plain League proudly announced Michael Morrison and Gene Cone (photos courtesy of Pat Grecinger), both of the Florence RedWolves, have been named the 2014 CPL Players of the Year presented by 919 Marketing – with Morrison taking Pitcher of the Year honors and Cone earning Hitter of the Year. CPL head coaches voted on both individual awards.
“We are excited to honor both Michael and Gene with these individual awards,” said CPL Commissioner Justin Sellers. “The CPL is proud of all its players each season and we certainly had a great crop of talent this summer. Michael and Gene were consistent leaders for the Florence RedWolves and finished the 2014 campaign with impressive stat lines. We are happy for them, and wish them - and the rest of our alumni - the very best in the future!”
Heading into his junior season at Coastal Carolina in the fall, this was Morrison’s first taste of collegiate summer baseball and he was impressive to say the least. The 6-2, 190-pound right-hander posted a 0.36 ERA during the regular season, allowing only one earned run on 11 hits in 24 2/3 innings pitched. He only walked seven batters in that time, while striking out 29. Furthermore, Morrison held opponent batters to a meager .139 average against him, while sporting a WHIP of 0.73.
With all of that in mind, it was Morrison’s dominance as a closer that really factored in for the RedWolves. In 23 regular season appearances, he recorded a league-high 18 saves and contributed to three combined shutouts. His 18 saves tied former Fayetteville SwampDogs pitcher Luke Prihoda (2006) for the all-time regular season CPL record.
Morrison’s strong play helped the RedWolves claim the top seed in the West Division in the Petitt Cup Playoffs. During the playoffs he finished with a perfect 0.00 ERA, not allowing a single earned run, while earning three saves and striking out 11 over 8 1/3 innings pitched.
While Morrison dominated on the mound, his teammate, Cone, proved to be a tough out for other pitchers in the CPL this summer. Cone, who will be a sophomore at South Carolina, played in the outfield for the RedWolves and finished the regular season with the top batting average in the league at .385.
A catalyst for Florence all season long at the top of the order, Cone went on to score 40 runs and while reaching base at an impressive .468 clip. In total, he racked up 62 hits with 18 doubles, two triples, and 25 RBIs for a stout .522 slugging percentage. In addition to finishing first in batting average, Cone was in the top five of almost every major offensive category including on-base percentage (2nd), doubles (3rd), slugging percentage (3rd), hits (4th) and runs scored (4th), hits (4th). He also drew 26 walks and stole four bases.
In the playoffs, Cone continued to be a dangerous leadoff man for Florence. He batted .314 in eight games, recording 11 hits, eight runs, four walks, and a pair of stolen bags.
Both players were selected as All-Stars for the West Division; and later helped lead the RedWolves back to the postseason for the first time since 2010. Florence defeated the Gastonia Grizzlies to win the West Division Championship. In the Petitt Cup Playoffs Championship Series, the RedWolves faced East Division Champion Peninsula, and finished just a win away from the franchise’s first-ever CPL Petitt Cup Championship, falling to the Pilots in three games.
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Further more, the CPL has had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 73 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far; while another notable alum – Russell Wilson – won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at CoastalPlain.com, and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (as CPLBaseball).