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Liberty Hosts Winthrop in Weekend Series

April 17, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty left-hander Steven Evans

Liberty left-hander Steven Evans

Complete Baseball Notes (PDF)

The Games
The Liberty Flames (23-12, 11-3 Big South) host the conference-leading Winthrop Eagles (24-12, 12-3 Big South) in a key Big South three-game series, Friday-Sunday at Worthington Stadium. The series gets underway Friday at 7 p.m., followed by the middle game of the three-game set, Saturday at 4 p.m. The series concludes Sunday, with game time scheduled for 1 p.m.

What to Watch
The Flames begin the weekend one game behind in the Big South standings with an 11-3 record. Liberty's current mark is tied for the best start by a Flames team in conference play.
Liberty enters the weekend hitting .325 as team in conference play, while the Flames mound staff has posted a 4.75 ERA through 14 Big South Conference contests.
Curran Redal paces the Liberty with a .422 batting average. He leads the conference in hits with 57 and is second in batting average. On Tuesday, the junior center fielder tied the Big South record for consecutive games with at least one hit, when he singled in the first inning for at least a one hit in 31 straight games.
Left-handers Steven Evans and Shawn Teufel, who will start games this weekend for Liberty, each have posted a team-high five wins. Last Friday, Teufel struck out nine in a win over UNC Asheville, the most by a Flames pitcher this season.
Winthrop brings a Big South leading 12 victories into the series this weekend. The Eagles are hitting .338 in conference, while their pitchers open the three-game set with a 3.25 ERA in Big South play.
First baseman Eddie Tisdale, who is among the conference leaders in several offensive categories, leads Winthrop with a .393 batting average. He also is the Eagle leader in RBIs with 37.
Third baseman Matt Thielepape earned Big South Player of the Week honors this week, batting .684 (13-19) with four home runs and six RBI in games played from April 6-12. On the season, he is one of nine Eagles hitting .300 or better, with a .355 average.

The Coaches
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman is in his second year at the helm of the Flames. In this first season at Liberty, he guided the Flames to a 35-26-1 mark, the best record by a Liberty team under a first-year coach in program history. This season, he got the Flames off to the second-best start in the history of Liberty baseball through 29 games.
A 20-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 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.
Winthrop Head Coach Joe Hudak is in his 26th year of collegiate baseball coaching.
The Eagles skipper has posted over 800 career wins and is the Big South leader in that department with 827. Only 27 active college baseball coaches have 800 or more wins in their career.
Hudak has led 15 teams to 30 or more wins during his coaching tenure. He has coached six teams to 40 or more victories, including the 1995, 1999, 2001, 2005 and the 2006 Eagles team that posted a 46-18 mark. The 2006 Winthrop team finished second at the NCAA Regional in Chapel Hill, NC.

Following the Flames
This season, the Flames Sports Network plans to broadcast several 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 schedule of games will be posted on thelightonline.com, when the radio station announces its broadcast schedule.
In addition, selected games will be video streamed live on the internet via the Big South Edge, available on BigSouthSports.com. The stream can be accessed for a nominal fee through a link on LibertyFlames.com or by going directly to BigSouthSports.com.
Each game of this weekend's three-game series between the Eagles and Flames is scheduled for web cast.
Live stats are available for each Liberty contest by clicking on the various Live Stats links at LibertyFlames.com.

Flames at Worthington Stadium
For the past 31 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium home. With an 11-4 victory over UNC Asheville in the second game of a doubleheader last Saturday, Liberty won its 500th contest at the stadium. Liberty has compiled an impressive 500-227-5 record at the facility for a winning percentage of .686 since the stadium's inception in 1979.
The Flames have posted a 14-3 record at the facility this season, already eclipsing last season's home win total of 11. Liberty is scheduled to play 25 games at home this season.
Last year, the Flames played 24 home games at the stadium, posting an 11-12-1 record at Worthington. The slate of home games included the first night contests in the history of the stadium. The first night contest ever at the stadium was played on March 28, 2008.

Redal Ties Big South Consecutive Game Hit Mark
Liberty center fielder Curran Redal enters Friday's game, having had at least one hit in 31 consecutive games. The streak ties the Big South record for consecutive games with a hit, set last season by UNC Asheville shortstop Kevin Weidenbacher.
Redal sharply singled to right field in the first inning of Tuesday's game at Worthington Stadium against Old Dominion to reach 31 to tie him with Weidenbacher.
During the streak, the junior has hit .455, collecting 55 hits in 121 at bats. He has also driven in all 39 of his season's RBI total over the span.

Best Big South Start
With two conference wins last weekend, the Flames are off to their best conference start since 1998 with an 11-3 record. Liberty is one game behind Winthrop in the Big South standings.
The start by the current Flames ties the squad with the 1998 and 1995 Liberty teams. Both teams also started Big South conference play with an 11-3 record.

Recognizing Redal
Liberty outfielder Curran Redal entered the week among the national and Big South leaders in several categories. In the latest Big South Conference statistical report, the junior led the conference in hits with 56 and total bases with 87. The center fielder ranks second in the league with a .427 average, third with 39 RBIs and second with a .664 slugging percentage.
In addition, Redal ranked among the national elite in several categories in the national statistical report for games through April 12. On this week's report, he was the fourth toughest hitter to strike out in the country, striking out once every 32.8 at bats. His hit total placed him 24th in the nation (56) and his batting average (.427) ranked him 38th.
Redal begins the week, having collected at least one hit in 31 consecutive games. During the span, he has hit .455. The center fielder leads the Flames with 13 multiple RBI games. In addition, he was named Big South Player of the Week for games played March 9-13.

Taking One for the Team
Entering play this weekend, Liberty batters have been hit by a pitch 74 times this season. Flame batters have been plunked by an opposition an average of 2.1 times per game. Liberty ranked second in the nation in the category as a team in the latest NCAA Division I statistical report through games of April 5.
This year, Flames batters have been hit by a pitch seven times in a game twice to set a new school standard. Temple pitchers hit seven Liberty hitters on March 7 and High Point hurlers plunked seven Flames on March 22.
Last season, the Flames set a new school record by being hit by a pitch 82. The mark eclipsed the previous standard of 75 in the 2001 season.

Fine Fielding
Beginning the week, Jim Toman's squad ranked No. 11 in the nation in fielding percentage with a .976 percentage. The percentage tops the Big South Conference. Liberty has committed 32 errors in 1342 chances this season.
The Flames fielding percentage is 18 points higher than that the same juncture of the year, last season. Through 35 games, Liberty made 59 errors, 27 more than this year, in 1390 chances for a .958 fielding percentage in 2008. The Flames ended the year with a .963 percentage.
The best team fielding percentage over a season in school history was set by the 2005 Flames. That season, Liberty posted a .971 fielding percentage and also committed the fewest errors in school history with 62.

Teufel Strikes Out Season-High
Liberty left-hander Shawn Teufel struck out nine UNC Asheville batters in a 9-0 win over the Bulldogs in the opening game of their three-game Big South series, last Friday. Teufel's nine strikeouts were the most in a game this season by a Liberty pitcher and was a career-high for the left-hander.
Teufel pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up two hits. He combined with Carter Browning and Chris McDougal to pitch the first shutout for the Flames this season.
Third baseman Tyler Bream and center fielder Curran Redal each hit a home run in the contest. Both players had two hits apiece in the contest. Bream had three RBIs for Liberty.

A Look Ahead
The Flames will host North Carolina Central, Sunday night here at Worthington Stadium in the final game of their eight-game homestand. Game time is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Next week, Liberty travels to Farmville, Va., for its second meeting of the season with the Longwood Lancers, Tuesday. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. The following afternoon, the Flames will host Virginia Tech at Worthington Stadium. Game time is slated for 3 p.m.