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Flames Open 2010 at Kennesaw State

February 17, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Outfielder Curran Redal and the Flames open the 2010 baseball season, this weekend at Kennesaw State

Outfielder Curran Redal and the Flames open the 2010 baseball season, this weekend at Kennesaw State

Complete Baseball Game Notes (PDF)

The Games
The Liberty Flames (0-0) travel to Kennesaw State to open their 2010 campaign, with a three-game weekend series with the Owls, Feb. 19-21. Kennesaw State (0-0) was selected to finished fourth in the Atlantic Sun this season in the conference's preseason poll, while Liberty was picked to finish second in the Big South Conference in its preseason poll.
The series will begin with the first contest of the year for either team, Friday at 4 p.m. at Stillwell Stadium. Saturday, the Flames and the Owls will square off in the middle game of the series at 1 p.m., before closing the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. The series is the first of seven consecutive road games to open the season for Liberty.

Last Time Out
Liberty fell to Winthrop, 6-1, on May 23, the last day of the Big South Baseball Championship, at McCormick Field in Asheville, N.C. The loss eliminated the Flames from the tournament,as Liberty completed the season, 33-21. The Flames finished the Big South Conference regular season with a 17-9 conference mark, its most wins ever since joining the league in 1992.

On Deck
The Flames will continue its seven-game, season-opening road swing, by competing in the Hughes Bros. Challenge, next Friday-Sunday, in Wilmington, N.C. Liberty will face Morehead State Friday, Lehigh Saturday and host UNC Wilmington Sunday at the tournament. Game time Friday is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday's contes is slated to begin at 10 a.m. and Sunday's game time is set for 1:30 p.m.

First Meeting
Liberty and Kennesaw State have never met on the baseball diamond.

Scouting the Owls
For the first time in program history, Kennesaw State is eligible for NCAA Division I postseason play after four years of transitition from the Division II ranks. Last season, the Owls posted a 30-22 record and finished second in the competitive Atlantic Sun (A-Sun) Conference.
The 2010 Kennesaw State roster will have a youthful look, with the departure of 13 players from last year's squad, including four all-conference players. The Owls return four position starters from last season and have 13 freshmen in uniform, the largest class on its roster.
Kennesaw State does return its leading hitter from last season, senior infieder Tyler Stubblefield. Last season, Stubblefield hit .300 with 20 doubles over 51 games. The senior has been selected to the Preseason A-Sun All-Conference team.
The other Owl on the A-Sun squad is outfielder Justin Whitaker. The outfielder returns for his junior season after having a productive season cut to 22 games due to injury. Whitaker hit .379 with four home runs and 25 RBIs in 66 at bats in 2009.
On the mound, Kennesaw State looks to replace its top four pitchers from a year ago. The Owls return seven of the 13 pitchers from their roster, who saw mound time in 2009. Junior right-hander Ryan Rodenbaugh is the lone starting hurler who returns to roster in 2010. Rodenbaugh went 1-1 with two saves and a 4.10 ERA in 48 1/3 innings last season. The junior made 22 appearances, with six starts, striking out 61 and walking 16 batters.
After Rodenbaugh, senior Brad Long logged the most innings of any returning Owl hurler in 2009. The right-hander went 3-3 with a 5.76 ERA over 37 2/3 innings last season.

Fast Starts in February
Since begining play during the month of February in 1984, Liberty has posted an all-time mark of 64-32 for a .667 winning percentage. In 22 Februarys as the starting month of the season, the Flames have recorded a .500 or better mark 19 times.
Last season, Liberty recorded a 3-3 record and won the Coca-Cola Classic held Feb. 20-22 in Mobile, Ala., in the second month of the year.
Over the past five years, Flames are 22-9 (.710) during the month of Feburary and have recorded an 8-3 mark under head coach Jim Toman during his first two years.

Standing Tall in Season Openers
Friday's contest with Kennesaw State will be the 37th season opener in program history for the Flames. Despite a 7-6 setback to No. 6 Ole Miss at the 2010 Coca Cola Classic in Mobile, Ala., last season, Liberty has recorded a 23-11 record in season lid-lifters since 1976.
In their first two years under head coach Jim Toman, the Flames have gone 1-1 in campaign openers, defeating Notre Dame, 6-2, on Feb. 22, 2008 at the Clearwater, Fla. Invitational.

Flames on the Road
Liberty finished 2009 with a 11-13 final road ledger. The Flames also compiled a 3-3 record on neutral fields. Liberty will begin the 2010 campaign with seven contests away from Worthington Stadium, its home field.

Home Sweet Home
For the past 32 years, the Flames have called Worthington Stadium home. Named for program architect and first Liberty head baseball coach, Al Worthington, Liberty has compiled an impressive 505-229-5 record at the stadium for a winning percentage of .685 since the facility's inception in 1979.
The Flames finished the 2009 regular season with a 19-5 record at the facility and are 30-17-1 in two seasons under head coach Jim Toman's guidance.
Liberty is scheduled to open its 2010 home schedule on March 5 against the Delaware State Hornets. The Flames are slated to play 26 contests at Worthington Stadium this season.

Liberty Picked Second in Big South Preseason Poll
Liberty was tabbed to finish second in the Big South Conference standings this season in voting by the Big South Coaches. The Flames were selected second, behind three-time defending champion Coastal Carolina.
The Flames, who received one first-place vote, garnered 88 points in the poll, nine less than Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers received eight first-place votes and 97 total points.
Winthrop, who garnered the final first-place vote, was tabbed third by the panel with 91 points, followed by Radford, High Point and VMI. Charleston Southen was picked seventh, while Gardner-Webb was voted to finish eighth. Presbyterian, who is eligible for the regular-season title but not the tournament title, and UNC Asheville round out the poll.
The 2010 Big South Championship will be contested May 25-29 at the Winthrop Ballpark in Rock Hill, S.C. The winner of the double-elimination tournament receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Coaching Staff Additions
Jason Murray and Adam Ward have joined head coach Jim Toman's staff for the 2010 season. Murray takes over assistant coaching duites, working with the Flames' infielders and coaching third base during games. He also coordinates Liberty's recruiting efforts.
Ward is serving as a volunteer assistant coach on the staff. He works with the team's outfielders and coaches first base for the Flames. Ward also is in charge of grounds at Worthington Stadium.

Three Newcomers MLB Draft Picks
A trio of players, who have joined the Liberty roster for the 2010 season, have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Junior Austin Taylor, sophomore Michael Robertson and freshmen Cameron Giannini have each been selected in a Major League Draft.
Taylor, an infielder, was drafted out of Thomas County Central High School by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. The junior college transfer was taken in the 43rd round.
Robertson, an outfielder, was also picked in the MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009. The junior college transfer was selected in the 40th round of the draft by the Reds.
Giannini, a pitcher, was a 2009 Draft Choice of the Detroit Tigers out of Hargrave Christian. The right-hander was selected in the 49th round by the Tigers.

Veteran Roster Returns
Liberty returns seven out of its eight position starters from 2009. Among the returners are the Flames' entire starting infield from a year ago, with three of the four, Trey Wimmer, Matt Williams and Tyler Bream, being sophomores.
In addtion, the Flames return 14 players who saw significant playing time in 2009, and 11 seniors, the most of any class on its 2010 roster.

Seniors Named Captains
Catcher Nathan Thompson and pitchers Shawn Teufel and Dustin Umberger have been chosen as captains for the 2010 Liberty Baseball team. The three seniors were selected by virtue of a team vote, with the trio received overwhelming support from their teammates.

Staying in the Commonwealth
Of the 35 players on Liberty's roster, 10 Flames hail from the Commonwealth of Virginia. After the Old Dominion State, four Flames each come from the near-by states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, while four others hail from Washington state. In total, 12 states are represented on the 2010 Liberty roster.