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Close Named Freshman of the Year, 4 Flames Earn All-Conference Honors

May 21, 2012
|  High Point, N.C.
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Liberty first baseman Alex Close was named the 2012 Big South Freshman of the Year.

Liberty first baseman Alex Close was named the 2012 Big South Freshman of the Year, while four other Flames, second baseman Bryan Aanderud, shortstop Zack Haley, pitcher John Niggli and outfielder Ian Parmley, were selected to all-conference teams.  The honors were announced Monday evening at a ceremony at High Point University, the site of the 2012 Big South Baseball Championship.

Close becomes the third Liberty freshman to be selected as the conference's Freshman of the Year, joining outfielder Keith Butler (2000) and pitcher Tim Harrell (1995). The Hoover, Ala., native leads the Big South with 12 home runs. The home run total ties Pat Sipe's 1983 total for the most by a freshman in a season in program history. His round tripper total is the ninth most in a single season in Liberty history.

In 48 games this season, Close has posted a .298 batting average with 42 RBIs and 32 runs scored.  He ranks seventh in the Big South in RBIs and fifth with a .550 slugging percentage.  He has collected eight doubles and two triples to go along with his 12 home runs.  Close has 12 multiple-RBI games, including four four-RBI games.

Pitcher Niggli and outfielder Parmley both were named to the all-conference first team. It is the first time either of the the two Flames have been selected to the team.

Niggli, a senior, has been tabbed the Big South Pitcher of the Week three times this season, garnering the award for Feb. 17-19, Feb. 27-Mar. 4 and April 10-17. The right-hander enters the week with an 8-3 record, a 2.07 ERA and a save during 91 1/3 innings pitched.  He has struck out 64 batters and walked 24.  The Tulare, Calif., native leads the conference in wins and ranks second in ERA and innings pitched.

Parmley, also a senior, begins the week seventh on Liberty's career stolen base list with 54.  The outfielder has started every game this season for the Flames, posting single-season highs with a .318 batting average, 25 RBIs and 65 runs scored.  The Maltby, Wash., native's run total is second on the program's single-season runs list. He is tied for the Big South lead in runs scored, while ranking second in stolen bases and walks. His 74 hits list him fifth in the conference. Parmley also was named to the Big South All-Academic team.

Meanwhile, Liberty's double play combination of second baseman Aanderud and shortstop Haley each garnered second team all-conference honors.

In his first season at Liberty, Aanderud, a junior, leads the Flames in batting average, RBIs, hits and on-base percentage. The infielder has started every Liberty contest this season and carries a .372 batting average with 52 RBIs and 39 runs scored into the week. The Fullerton, Calif., leads the Flames with 26 multiple-hit games and nine contests with three or more hits. Aanderud ranks second in the Big South Conference in on-base percentage and hits, while listing third among the conference leaders in batting average and RBIs.

Haley, a senior, tops the Big South Conference and ranks eighth on Liberty's all-time single-season list with 20 doubles.  The middle infielder has started every game at shortstop in 2012 for the Flames, hitting .299 with 25 RBIs and 44 runs scored. The Prescott, Ariz., native has provided sure-handed defense for Liberty, making only 11 errors in 257 chances for a .957 fielding percentage. Haley and Aanderud have combined to turn a league-high 40 double plays.

No. 3 seed Liberty will meet No. 6 seed UNC Asheville, tomorrow afternoon in Game 3 of the 2012 Big South Championship at Coy O. Willard Stadium in High Point, N.C. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

2012 BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE BASEBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS

FIRST-TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
OF     Daniel Bowman, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OF     Matt Hillsinger, Sr., Radford
OF     Ian Parmley, Sr., Liberty
C        Tucker Frawley, Sr., Coastal Carolina
1B     Kenny Bryant, Sr., Presbyterian
2B     Michael Felton, Jr., Campbell
3B     Rich Witten, Sr., Coastal Carolina
SS      Jeff Kemp, R-Jr., Radford
DH     Jake Kirkland, Jr., Campbell
SP      Eddie Butler, Jr., Radford
SP      John Niggli, Sr., Liberty
SP      Matt Sergey, Sr., Campbell
RP     Aaron Burke, Jr., Coastal Carolina

SECOND-TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
OF     Jacob Morley, Sr., VMI
OF     Chase Shelton, Fr., Charleston Southern
OF     Bobby Ison, Fr., Charleston Southern
C        John Harris, R-Jr., Gardner-Webb
1B     Matt Mack, Sr., Radford
2B     Bryan Aanderud, Jr., Liberty
3B     David Olson, Jr., Campbell
SS      Zack Haley, Sr., Liberty (tie)
SS      Ryan Hodge, Fr., Gardner-Webb (tie)
DH     Alex Buccilli, R-Jr., Coastal Carolina
SP      Ryan Dull, Sr., UNC Asheville
SP      Josh Conway, Jr., Coastal Carolina
SP      Tyler Herb, Soph., Coastal Carolina
RP     Ryan Connolly, Jr., Coastal Carolina

ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM
Josh Holskey, Sr., Campbell
Charlie McCready, Sr., Charleston Southern
Tucker Frawley, Sr., Coastal Carolina
Dusty Quattlebaum, R-Sr., Gardner-Webb
Sean Wilson, Jr., High Point
Ian Parmley, Sr., Liberty
Andrew Williams, R-Jr., Presbyterian
Jason Patten, Sr., Radford
Cody Buch, Sr., UNC Asheville
Max Vogel, Jr., Winthrop

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Daniel Bowman, Sr., OF, Coastal Carolina

CO-PITCHER OF THE YEAR (tie)
Eddie Butler, Jr., Radford
Aaron Burke, Jr., Coastal Carolina

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Alex Close, 1B, Liberty

COACH OF THE YEAR
Gary Gilmore, Coastal Carolina

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Tucker Frawley, Sr., Coastal Carolina