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Baseball: Fall Recap

November 6, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty head coach Jim Toman

Liberty head coach Jim Toman

The Liberty Flames baseball team completed the team portion of fall practice last weekend.  LibertyFlames.com sat down with Head Coach Jim Toman and discussed the team's progress this fall.

What are your thoughts on the team after fall practice and scrimmages?

Overall, the fall went well. We got to see many different players in game situations, and it was very encouraging. We did have several players with injuries and quite a few didn't participate in all of the scrimmages, so hopefully by spring all of them will be 100% healthy. I think we have many more options on our pitching staff than we had in my first two years here at Liberty.

How did the new recruits do? Who stood out?

I like the new guys, especially the new arms! Guys like J.J. McLeod, Chris Roach, Josh Richardson, Cam Giannini, Austin Bridgewater, Keegan Linza and Tim Dudley all appear to be ready to pitch at this level of college baseball. New position players that looked good include Michael Robertson, Justin Sizemore, and Kenneth Negron. Jerry Neufang and Austin Taylor were injured and didn't get to do much this fall, but they appear to be guys that will make an impact in the spring.

You have a lot of returning starters back on the mound and in the field. How did they look?

Matt Williams, Tyler Bream, P.J. Jimenez, and Trey Wimmer all had productive falls, and appear to be a little stronger this year. Doug Bream had hamate bone surgery and should be ready in February. On the mound, Shawn Teufel and Carter Browning were excellent. Steven Evans, Dane Beakler and Dustin Umberger were limited in the fall due to rehab, but all three will be ready to go in the spring. The plan right now is to red-shirt Mark Swanson this spring to get him 100% healthy for the 2011 season.

Any surprises in the fall?

The biggest surprise was the emergence of Nate Thompson as a front-line catcher. Nate had a very good fall both offensively and defensively and is in the mix at that position. Also, Kenneth Negron is back this year and has a foothold on the left field job after a good fall. Zane Bator is healthy after breaking a finger last year and right now could be the everyday DH. Another guy that was a pleasant surprise is freshman Josh Richardson who looks like a legitimate two-way player.

In your first two years, Liberty has set school records for doubles, hit by pitches, Big South wins, strikeouts, fielding percentage, fewest errors, etc. What's next?

Our season will not be a success unless we reach an NCAA Regional. Our goals will be to win the regular season championship, win forty games, win the Big South tournament and get into the postseason. We feel like we are ready to take that next step and if we stay healthy, we are very confident that we will be playing at the end of the year in a regional. I like this team. They have a lot of energy, a strong work ethic and have been really fun to coach.

A well-respected college baseball writer said that "Liberty continued their run to an eventual Regional berth with a strong 2008" and that "2009 could be a program-changing season". What are your thoughts on this?

I hope he is right!