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Turning the page: Gainesville's Sam Carpenter ready to jump into coaching after All-American career at Piedmont University
Former Red Elephants' left-handed pitcher now helping coach with the summer-league Gainesville Braves
Sam Carpenter
Gainesville High graduate Sam Carpenter, pitching coach of the Gainesville Braves, talks with players in the dugout during a game June 7 at Ivey-Watson Field in Gainesville. Photo by Bill Murphy

Sam Carpenter is one of the fortunate ones, who at just 23 years old, has a clear road map in place for what he wants to do with his life. 

At a point in life when most young adults are grappling with indecision about a career, Carpenter knows his future involves coaching baseball at the college ranks. 

As a de facto internship, the Gainesville High graduate, who recently finished his career as a Division-III All-American at Piedmont University, is spending his first summer after graduating alongside his father, Cris, as pitching coaches for the Gainesville Braves, a summer-league baseball team in the Sunbelt League.

The Gainesville Braves are comprised entirely of college players, many of which were former Hall County standouts. 

Its home games are played at Ivey-Watson Field. 

The Braves’ next game is Wednesday at the Atlanta Crackers. 

After playing the next four games on the road, Gainesville returns home to face the Marietta Patriots at 7 p.m. on June 23.

“This has been a cool experience for me,” Carpenter said. “I’m working with guys who are not much younger than myself. This is a good experience getting to know players and get them to trust and respect you.”

Carpenter said working with the Gainesville Braves from the coaching side is a unique opportunity to spend time with talented athletes for a couple months before they go back to school. 

“Our goal is to send them back to their schools better than we they came in to play with us,” Carpenter said.

Baseball has always been Carpenter’s first love and he excelled as a left-handed pitcher for the Red Elephants and then set a school record for strikeouts in his career at Piedmont. 

Sam is blessed to have his father, who sustained a long career in the big leagues in the 1980s and 1990s, to look up to and built that bond through baseball that still exists today as they now regularly banter about strategy as coaches. 

Gainesville Braves manager Micah Owings, who was at the height of his record-setting career for Gainesville High when Sam was just a young child, is also one of Sam’s lifelong influences. Like Cris Carpenter, Owings also enjoyed a successful big league career, with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds. 

“(Sam’s) a wonderful guy and the knowledge he has for the game, especially for someone his age, far outweighs anyone I know,” Owings said. “He had a stellar playing career and instead of pursuing pro-ball opportunities, decided to go straight into coaching.”

And what better way to learn the ropes coaching than with two men, both who were also pitchers, and are both easily accessible for Sam to ask questions and learn more about the game. 

Sam felt the tug to go into college coaching at about the midway point of his college playing career. He said regular conversations with Lions’ coaches, including head coach Justin Scali, gave him a good idea what to expect, if you go down that road. 

“Coach (Scali) told me that the grind of college coaching is in the summer and fall when you’re out there on the road, trying to improve your team,” Carpenter said. “The tough part isn’t the spring.”

Right now, Carpenter said he is actively entertaining job offers and even interviewing for positions. 

He said this experience is huge in making that leap from player to coach. 

“I know I’m still low on the Totem pole in terms of experience,” Carpenter said. “This is certainly beneficial experience to go on my resume.”

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