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Flames Picked Second In Diamond Poll

January 28, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman's squad has been picked to finish second in this year's Big South Conference race.

Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman's squad has been picked to finish second in this year's Big South Conference race.

The Liberty Flames baseball team has been selected to finish second in the Big South Conference this season in the league's annual preseason baseball poll. The poll is voted on by the conference's head coaches.

Liberty, which was picked to finish atop the conference standings by two coaches, garnered 86 points in the poll. The Flames completed the 2008 Big South race in second place with a 14-7 mark and finished as the conference runner-up for the third straight year. Overall, Liberty won over 30 games for the fourth consecutive season in 2008, posting a 35-26-1 record. Head Coach Jim Toman team's 35 victories were the most by a first year coach in program history.

Liberty returns several key players from last season's squad led by Errol Hollinger, who will be starting for the fourth year at catcher, and Dustin Umberger, who helped the 2008 Flames pitching set a school record for strikeouts in a season by leading the Big South in the category. Along with Hollinger, a Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List member, and Umberger, Liberty returns four more seniors, infielder Cody Brown, a member of the 2008 Big South All-Tournament team, and pitchers Tyler Light, Tim Rotola and Andrew Wilson.

Coastal Carolina was chosen to finish the year as the conference's top team by seven members of the voting panel. The Chanticleers, ranked as high as No. 22 nationally coming into 2009, garnered 97 points. In addition, Coastal Carolina right-hander Nick McCully was voted the conference's Preseason Pitcher of the Year, finishing ahead of Liberty's Umberger by five points.

After Liberty, Winthrop was picked third, garnering one first place vote and 78 points, while VMI finished fourth in the voting with 74 points. Radford received 53 points in being selected fifth, followed by High Point in sixth with 46 points. Big South newcomer Gardner-Webb (43 points) was listed in seventh, followed by UNC Asheville (38 points) in eighth, Charleston Southern was voted ninth (22 points) and Big South newcomer Presbyterian (13 points), who is eligible for the regular season championship, in 10th round out the poll.

Radford infielder Alex Gregory was named the conference's Preseason Player of the Year by the panel.

Liberty opens it 2009 season on Feb. 20 against No. 14 Ole Miss in the first of four games the Flames will play in the three-day Coca-Cola Classic in Mobile, Ala. The tournament field also includes host South Alabama and Mercer. The Flames open their home schedule a week later on Feb. 28 by hosting Manhattan in a Saturday doubleheader at Worthington Stadium.


2009 Big South Conference Preseason Baseball Poll (combined votes)
Rk. Team (first-place votes) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Points
1 Coastal Carolina (7) 70 27 - - - - - - - - 97
2 Liberty (2) 20 45 16 - - 6 - - - - 86
3 Winthrop (1) 10 9 32 21 6 - - - - - 78
4 VMI - 9 32 21 12 - - - - - 74
5 Radford - - - 21 12 15 - 3 2 - 53
6 High Point - - - - 12 20 8 6 - - 46
7 Gardner-Webb - - - 7 12 - 16 6 2 - 43
8 UNC Asheville - - - - 6 10 8 12 2 - 38
9 Charleston Southern - - - - - - 4 3 14 1 22
10 Presbyterian - - - - - - 7 - - 9 13