#43 Liberty Baseball Preview

Liberty Flames

Overall Rank: #43
Conference Rank: #1 Big South
Liberty College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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Like heat, the Flames are on the rise this season, led by their head coach, Jim Torman, who has been pegged as one of college baseball’s up and coming coaches. He has his captains selected and the team prepped to join baseball’s elite in the NCAA tournament. They have recently announced their schedule which is highlighted with, and opens with, a three game series against baseball powerhouse, South Carolina. They will also play 11 games against 2012 NCAA regional qualifiers. This schedule will challenge them throughout the year and the Flames are hoping that will catapult them to future success.

2012: 41-19, 14-10
2012 Postseason: None
Coach: Jim Toman

Field Players:
This team is chucked full of upperclassmen who will make an impact for them. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud is looking to build on an impressive junior campaign, in which he was voted second team all-conference and finished third in the conference in batting average, hits, and RBI’s. His senior season will be imperative to the Flames and he will be leading them on and off the field as well, being voted a captain for the 2013 season. Fellow senior and captain, Trey Wimmer, will be crucial to the success of the Flames as well. The now two time captain and senior backstop played in 59 games for the Flames a season ago and drove in 27 runs. Although his offensive numbers are not overly impressive, his defense behind the plate, his ability to manage the game, and of course his leadership skills, are important to this Liberty team. Junior outfielder and captain, Ryan Cordell, will also be a major factor in the Flames lineup. A season ago he played in 54 games, hit .301 and drove in 25 runs. These three players make up the leadership nucleus on this team, but also will be major factors in the lineup and on defense.
The pitching staff still has a lot to be determined, but appears as though they have a lot of potential. Senior pitcher Brooks Roy made seven starts a season ago and 14 appearances. During this time span he posted a dominate 2.49 ERA with a 4-0 record. He will be relied upon heavily for the Flames. Junior pitcher Trey Lambert will also play a key role for this team. He had 14 appearances with three starts a season ago. He notched a save and posted a fantastic 2.53 ERA. Senior Kody Young will be needed as well. As a junior he made two starts but had 11 appearances. His 2.95 ERA is very solid. This was Young’s first year at Liberty after playing at Columbia Basin College for two years prior. There he posted a stellar 1.23 ERA over 80 1/3 innings as a sophomore. Now a senior and after a year to get acclimated to the Big South, the Flames will rely on him to have a tremendous final collegiate season.

Who to Watch:
Although this team has a lot of upperclassmen talent, the key to their offense may lie in the hands of sophomore first basemen Alex Close. The Hoover product also saw action as catcher, but mostly played DH a season ago as a freshman. His first year on campus was an exciting one, setting the Big South record for homeruns by a freshman (14), which also paced the conference. He also finished third in slugging percentage, sixth in RBI’s, and fifth in total bases. His ability to contribute to the offense has Liberty fans everywhere excited. He will need to prove that his freshman campaign was no fluke and the Flames offense may hinge on his performance.

Final Projection:
This team is loaded with upper-class talent, which should bode well for them during their daunting schedule. They have some young players with promise as well, joining to make a dangerous combination. They are a team on the rise and should be competing for a conference championship when it is all said and done. They should also find themselves in the NCAA baseball tournament where anything can happen.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Bryan Aanderud, IF, 220
Hits: Bryan Aanderud, IF, 81
Home Runs: Alex Close, 1B, 14
RBIs: Bryan Aanderud, IF, 53
Runs: Bryan Aanderud, IF, 42
Stolen Bases: Ryan Cordell, OF, 8

Wins: Roy Brooks, P, 4
Innings Pitched: Jared Lyons, P, 47.1
Strikeouts: Jared Lyons, P, 34
Saves: Jared Lyons, P, 2; Patrick Bankemper, P, 2


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