Liberty senior outfielder P.K. Keller is greeted by his teammates at home plate. Flames open their season Friday in Clearwater, Fla.
The Games The Liberty University Flames (0-0, 0-0 Big South) travel to Clearwater, Fla., to open the 2008 campaign by participating in the Clearwater Invitational, Feb. 22-24. On Friday, Liberty will open its season and begin the Jim Toman era against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0, 0-0 BIG EAST) at 1 p.m. On Saturday, the Flames will square off against the Albany Great Danes (0-0, 0-0 AEC) in a morning contest, beginning at 10 a.m. Liberty will conclude its weekend by facing the Iowa Hawkeyes (0-0, 0-0 Big 10) at 10 a.m., Sunday. All-Time Against Invitational Field Friday will be the first-ever meeting between Liberty and Notre Dame on the baseball diamond. On Saturday, the Flames and the Great Danes will meet for the fourth time. Liberty leads the all-time series, 3-0, after sweeping Albany in a three-game series last season in Lynchburg. On Sunday, Liberty will meet another first time opponent in the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Coaches Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman is in his first season at the helm of the Flames. A 19-year member of the college coaching ranks, he served 18 years as a member of Ray Tanner's staffs at South Carolina and N.C. State. Toman was named the 2002 Baseball America/American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year and recruited 15 top 25 classes, including all 11 of his seasons at South Carolina. From 2003-2006, three of the four Gamecock recruiting classes were ranked first in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. During his time on the staff in Columbia, S.C., Toman and the Gamecocks made nine NCAA Regional appearances, including eight-straight since 2000, and three-consecutive trips to the College World Series (2002-04). Add in his seven seasons at N.C. State, and Toman has helped lead 15 teams to NCAA Regional appearances. Notre Dame Head Coach David Schrage is in his second season with the Irish. Last year, he led the Fighting Irish to a 28-28 mark. In his 19 seasons as a head coach, 16 at the Division I level, Schrage has posted a 504-581 mark. Besides Notre Dame, he has skippered programs at Evansville, Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa. Albany Head Coach Jon Mueller is in his ninth season with the Great Danes. Last year, he led Albany to its first America East Conference tournament championship and NCAA appearance, while recording the program's sixth consecutive 20-win season. Mueller has led the Great Danes to a 180-212-1 mark during his career and holds the school record for coaching victories. Iowa Head Coach Jack Dahm returns to the Hawkeye bench for his fifth season. In four seasons, he has led Iowa to a 103-109 record. Last season, the Hawkeyes posted the program's best mark in 14 years, 31-24, under his guidance. Dahm has a 385-396 career ledger, having spent 10 years as the head coach at Creighton. A New Staff For 2008 With the hire of Jim Toman as head coach, the Liberty baseball team was greeted by a new coaching staff when fall practice began. Joining Toman are Scott Jackson, Nick Schnabel and Jeremiah Boles as assistants. Jackson heads up the Flames' pitching staff, while Schnabel serves as the team's hitting and infield instructor. Schnabel will also coach third base. Boles, a former Liberty baseball player, rounds out the staff. Boles is assisting with hitting instruction, working with the squad's outfielders and coaching first base. Following the Flames This season, the Flames Sports Network plans to broadcast 19 Liberty baseball regular season games. Games will air live on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light" and on the World Wide Web at both LibertyFlames.com and thelightonline.com. The station's first broadcast is planned for the Flames' home opener against Rider on Feb. 29. Live stats are available for each Liberty contest through LibertyFlames.com.
Liberty on the Road This year, Liberty is scheduled to play 28 contests on the road, including five on neutral fields. Jim Toman's team's road schedule includes two tournaments, one in Clearwater, Fla., to open the season and The Coca-Cola Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss., March 14-15. The Flames posted a 12-15 road mark in 2007 and a 3-1 neutral field record.
Flames by the Month The Flames will play five contests in the month of February in 2008, with the inception of the common starting date for college baseball. For the first time this season, NCAA Division I programs can only begin competition on Feb. 22. Liberty has been successful in the past two seasons during the second month of the year. Last season, the Flames started the 2007 campaign by posting a 7-3 mark in the month, while in 2006, Liberty started 7-2.
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