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Defending Big South Champion Liberty Picked to Win North Division

January 28, 2014  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty pitcher Jared Lyons

Liberty pitcher Jared Lyons

The defending Big South Champion Liberty Flames have been selected to win the conference's North Division this season, as the league's annual preseason baseball poll was released this afternoon by the league's office. The poll is voted on by the conference's head coaches.

Liberty received six first-place votes and garnered 62 points, in being tabbed to rest atop the North Division standings at season's end. The Flames edged out Campbell, which received 59 points.

Coastal Carolina was a unanimous selection to capture the South Division crown with 72 votes.

Campbell, High Point, Liberty, Longwood, Radford and VMI comprise the North Division, while Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian College, UNC Asheville and Winthrop make up the South Division.

Last season, Liberty won its first conference title since 2000, posting a 36-29 overall record and a 13-11 mark in Big South play. The Flames finished in third place in the conference's North Division and fifth overall.
After capturing the conference title, the Flames defeated Clemson twice at the NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional to make their first regional final appearance in program history.

Head coach Jim Toman, who enters his seventh season at Liberty, welcomes back several key members from last season's squad. Pitcher/outfielder Ashton Perritt, who has been named a preseason All-American by both the National Collegiate Baseball Writers and the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, returns along with junior Alex Close, senior right-hander Trey Lambert, senior pitcher/infielder Danny Grauer and junior left-hander Jared Lyons.

Radford was selected to finish third in the North Division with 51 points, followed by High Point with 38, Longwood with 28 and VMI with 14.

In the South Division, Gardner-Webb was tabbed to finish second with 56 points, while Charleston Southern was selected to place third with 45 points. Winthrop, 34 points, Presbyterian College, 26 points, and UNC Asheville (19 points) round out the division.

Charleston Southern outfielder Bobby Ison was selected as the conference's preseason player of the year.  Campbell's Ryan Thompson was named the preseason pitcher of the year.

This season, Big South teams will play 27 conference games.  Each team will play three games against the squads in their division, plus four three-game series with teams from the opposite division.

Liberty begins its 2014 campaign against host North Florida at the UNF Tournament on Feb. 14. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m.

The Flames are slated to open their home schedule at Liberty Baseball Stadium on Feb. 18 against the Old Dominion Monarchs. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Liberty will begin defense of its Big South Conference title with a three-game series against North Division foe Campbell, March 14-16 at Liberty Baseball Stadium.