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Liberty Ranked No. 35 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Poll
The defending Big South Champion Liberty Flames have been ranked No. 35 in The Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I pre-season baseball poll, released earlier today.
Liberty, which finished 36-29 overall in 2013, is one of two Big South teams ranked in the newspaper's preseason poll. The Flames are joined by Coastal Carolina, which is ranked at No. 40.
The defending Big South Champions return 18 players from last year's team including 2013 Big South Tournament MVP Ashton Perritt and right-hander Trey Lambert, who led the Flames in wins in 2013, along with Big South All-Tournament team members Dalton Britt, Jake Kimble and Blake Fulghum.
Earlier this week, Perritt was named a Preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America. The pitcher/outfielder was named the utility player (two-way player) on the second team.
Last season, Liberty captured its first Big South Conference baseball title and earned the conference's automatic bid to an NCAA Regional since 2000. The Flames won five straight contests to win the Big South crown. Liberty becoming only the fourth host team in 25 Big South Conference baseball tournaments to win the conference's champion, when they defeated Campbell, 2-1 on May 25 at Liberty Baseball Stadium. Of Liberty's five victories in the tournament, four were decided by one run.
The Flames went on to gain national attention during the NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional by defeating Clemson twice to appear in the first regional final in school history, May 31-June 3. Making its fourth regional appearance in program history, Liberty defeated the Tigers, 8-3, on May 31 and then defeated them again, 3-1, on June 2, to advance to the regional final against regional host South Carolina.
The Flames were ranked 26th in the final The Collegiate Baseball Newspaper of 2013.
Liberty opens its 2014 campaign against the host North Florida Ospreys on Feb. 14 at the North Florida Tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.