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Flames Tabbed Third in Preseason Diamond Poll

January 31, 2008  Lynchburg  RSS
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Liberty's Garrett Young

Liberty's Garrett Young

The Liberty Flames baseball team has been picked to finish third 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 and Sports Information Directors and released this morning by the conference office.

Liberty, which was edged for second in the poll by one point by VMI, comes off a 36-25 mark in 2007, and its second-straight appearance in the conference's title game. Under new field general Jim Toman, the Flames return a veteran-laden club for the upcoming 2008 campaign. Led by senior outfielder Garrett Young, a 2008 Brooks Wallace Preseason Player of the Year Watch List member, Liberty returns six of its nine starters from a season ago. The Flames collected 96 votes from the panel of voters.

Defending Big South Champion Coastal Carolina was chosen to finish the year as the conference's top team by all 16 members of the voting panel. The Chanticleers, ranked as high as No. 19 nationally coming into 2008, garnered 128 votes. In addition, Coastal Carolina took both preseason individual honors, as junior outfielder David Sappelt, the reigning Big South Player of the Year, was voted the conference's Preseason Player of the Year, while junior Bobby Gagg was selected as the conference's Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

VMI was tabbed to finished second by one point over the Flames. The Keydets collected 97 votes. Winthrop was voted fourth by picking up 88 votes, followed by High Point with 61 votes. UNC Asheville was sixth in the balloting (56 votes), while Charleston Southern and Radford rounded out the conference voting tied for seventh (25 votes).

Radford infielder Alex Gregory finished second in Player of the Year voting to Sappelt, followed by Liberty's Young and Kevin Mattison. VMI left-hander Michael Bowman was second in the Pitcher of the Year balloting, followed by Payton Tweddale of Charleston Southern, UNC Asheville's Alan DeRatt and Flames' right-hander Dustin Umberger.
Liberty opens it 2008 season on Feb. 22 against Notre Dame in the three-day Clearwater Invitational at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater, Fla. The tournament field also includes Albany and Iowa. The Flames open their home schedule a week later on February 29 by hosting Rider in a three-game set at Worthington Stadium.

2008 Big South Conference Preseason Baseball Poll (combined votes)

Rk. Team (first-place votes)  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Points
1 Coastal Carolina (16) 128               128
2 VMI -- 35 48 10 -- -- -- -- 97
3 Liberty -- 42 30 20 4 -- -- -- 96
4 Winthrop -- 35 12 30 8 3 -- -- 88
5 High Point -- -- -- 15 28 18 -- -- 61
6 UNC Asheville -- -- 6 5 20 21 4 -- 56
T-7 Charleston Southern -- -- -- -- -- 6 10 9 25
T-7 Radford -- -- -- -- -- -- 18 7 25