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Finishing Strong

May 9, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Doug Bream

Early in the career of Liberty senior Doug Bream, the outfielder seemed to develop a tendency to begin a season hitting at a torrid pace and then cooling off late in the year. 

And, the 2010 season was no different.  Bream started the year by hitting .354 through the first 37 games of Liberty's season, only to hit .241 over the final 24 games of the year.

"A lot of the time during my first three years here, I've had good starts and then I've struggled toward the later part of the season," said Bream. "And, I think a lot of it had to do with strength."

Bream vowed his final year in a Flames uniform was going to be different.  Following the conclusion of the 2010 season, the Elizabethtown, Pa. native made it one of his top priorities to get stronger in order to sustain that early season success throughout an entire season.  "I really wanted to focus on getting stronger and getting in shape and being ready to go this year."

Not only did the outfielder dedicate himself to an offseason conditioning and strength program, but he also committed himself to working on his hitting.

Bream also looked to make some adjustments to his swing, hoping to become more consistent at the plate during his final season of collegiate baseball.  "I had become more of a free swinger during my first three years, and my timing would get off with my step towards the pitcher when starting my swing, causing me problems," continued Bream.

Bream went to work this summer, spending time with his uncle Dave Bream at a hitting facility in Dallas, Texas, working on his hitting. Dave Bream was a member of the Liberty baseball program from 1982-85.

"I worked on starting to get my swing going earlier and getting my foot planted earlier, so I could be more consistent in my technique," remarked the senior. "I thought if I worked on that and got my foot down quicker, I could be a reliable hitter going into my last year."

The offseason conditioning and adjustments to his swing seemed to have paid huge dividends for Bream as he is in the midst of the best year of his career. Entering the week, he has been a key member of Flames, who are currently second in the Big South Conference standings with a 15-6 record and sports a 29-19 overall record.  Bream leads the Flames in hitting with a .364 batting average. The average ranks him eighth in the Big South in the category.

The senior also leads the Flames in RBIs with 37, multiple-hit games with 19 and multiple-RBI games with 11. He begins the week second on the team with 14 doubles and on-base percentage of .404. 

He has also shown some speed this season, leading the Flames in triples with three. In his first three seasons, Bream did not have a three-base hit.  In addition, he is 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts. Entering the year, the senior had only two stolen bases for his career.

Besides batting average, Bream's strong season has also landed him in the top 10 of the Big South Conference in several other statistical categories. He is tied for seventh in doubles and third in triples. In addition, he is currently tied for ninth in the conference with 64 hits.

Defensively, the senior has given the Flames solid play in left field.  Bream has made several outstanding defensive plays in outfield, suring up a position which was a question mark for Liberty at the beginning of the season.

The outfielder has also garnered national attention this season, earning several weekly awards after a stellar seven days from April 4-10.  Bream was selected one of the National Co-Hitters of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and to the College Baseball Foundation's National All-Star Lineup (April 14).  He also was named Southeast Regional Player of the Week by CollegeBaseballInsider.com and Big South Conference Player of the Weekend for April 12.

During the week, Bream batted .737 (14-19), scoring six runs and driving in eight.  He had two doubles, one triple and walked twice in four games. The week was highlighted by a 5-for-5 performance against the James Madison Dukes on April 6. The five hits established a new career high for Bream, eclipsing his previous high mark of four against the Dukes on April 21, 2010.

After picking up a hit and a RBI at High Point on April 8, Bream had four hits in each of Liberty's weekend wins over the Panthers.  The outfielder went 4-for-5 and drove in four runs in 9-0 win on April 9 and was 4-for-5 with a double and three RBIs in Liberty's 14-9 victory on April 10. He finished the week with a .762 on-base percentage and a .947 slugging percentage.

Bream's success this season is not only a result of added strength and a adjustments to his approach at the plate; he also attributes it to becoming more mature as a player.

"My first three years here, I was a little more tense and nervous with game play. If I got out, I acted like it was the end of the world and I have to admit I got overly frustrated," commented Bream."However, I feel like I have gotten more mature during my years here and have begun treating baseball as a game and having fun with it.

"I think it has helped to realize what a treat it to have the opportunity to play college baseball and to make the best of it and enjoy it."

As the final weeks of the season wind down, Bream looks to continue enjoying his final season at Liberty, where he plans to finish strong.

by Dwayne Groff for the Liberty Athletics Communications Office