2019 @ASUNBSB Season Preview: Liberty Flames

2019 @ASUNBSB Season Preview: Liberty Flames

ATLANTA, Ga. - Opening day is now under two weeks away, and with the 2019 season quickly approaching it's time to take a team-by-team look at all nine ASUN Baseball squads starting play this spring. Conference newcomer Liberty continues the preview countdown after placing third in the ASUN Preseason Coaches Poll.

Liberty joins the ASUN following a stellar run in the Big South, making the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2014 while affiliated with the league. Entering new surroundings, the Flames endure a challenging non-conference slate built by Head Coach Scott Jackson, highlighted by matchups with seven "Power 5" programs including Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. ASUN action begins in late March as NJIT comes to Lynchburg as Liberty gets three of the first four conference series at home.

The lineup for Liberty loses some of the top hitters from last season but brings back young talent looking to make a jump entering the third or fourth years in the program. As a team, the bats lit up to the tune of 165 extra-base hits including 19 triples which would have ranked second in the ASUN behind Stetson's 23. The Flames would have been the top fielding team in the ASUN as well, putting together a .977 fielding percentage that would be just above that of Stetson and Jacksonville.

On the mound, Liberty loses a few pieces but brings back two rising sophomores who were key members of the starting rotation. Noah Skirrow and Brady Stamper come back after combining for 24 starts as freshman, throwing a combined 116 innings from the bump. Garret Price looks to make the move to full-time starter as well after making six starts in 23 games last season, posting a 7-4 mark while also saving five games.

Liberty Team Quick Facts
2018 Record:
 32-26 (17-10)
Best Single-Season Record in ASUN: N/A (First Season)
ASUN Championships: None (First Season)
ASUN Regular Season Titles: None (First Season)
NCAA Appearances: 1993, 1998, 2000, 2013, 2014
2019 Season Notes: The Flames enter the ASUN with young talent looking to take the team to the top early on with the lineup and pitching staff both led by underclassmen under Head Coach Scott Jackson.
Season Opener: at South Carolina; 2/15/19 - 4 PM
ASUN Opener: vs. NJIT; 3/22/18 - 6 PM 

Coaching Staff
Head Coach:
 Scott Jackson
Career Record (Years): 65-59 (Third Year)
Liberty Record (Years): Same
Staff: Tyler Cannon, Bryant Gaines, Daniel Brown, Payton Scarbrough

Key Returners
- Cam Locklear, Jr., SS: The Fan-Voted Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Locklear started 57 games up the middle while improving his offensive numbers from his freshman campaign to sophomore season. The North Carolina native hit .258 while driving in 33 RBIs, adding four home runs and 10 two-baggers to top all categories from his first season with the Flames.
- Jonathan Embry, R-Jr., UTL: Splitting time between catcher and the outfield, Embry was a constant in the Liberty lineup, hitting his way to a .239 average with 37 RBIs. His power was on display last season, connecting for 25 extra-base hits including 16 doubles and six homers with his first career long ball coming in the opening at-bat of the 2018 season.
- Tyler Galazin, Sr., INF: Galazin returns with the highest average on the team, sporting a .286 clip from the plate last year. One who could come up clutch when needed, Galazin recorded nine doubles and four home runs on the year including a two-run walk-off dinger in an elimination game of the Big South Tournament, his second walk-off hit of the year.

Top Returning Pitchers 
- Garret Price, Jr., RHP: Price made 23 appearances on the year with six starts. Posted a 7-4 record along with a 3.99 ERA over 65.1 innings pitched. Saved five games as well before moving into a more prominent role as a starter for the Flames. Struck out 75 hitters over the course of the season while allowing just 22 walks.
- Noah Skirrow, So., RHP: Led Liberty with 14 starts as a freshman, recording a mark of 4-3 on the season. In 67 innings, Skirrow struck out 77 batters and held opposing hitters to a .223 average, the best for Liberty. 
- Brady Stamper, So., RHP: A 6-5 righty, Stamper is one of two players to return with 10 or more starts last year as the sophomore made 10 in his debut season in collegiate ball. In 49 innings, the Delaware product poted a 4-3 record while striking out 49 hitters.

Impact Newcomer
- Jordan Yoder, So., OF:
 A transfer product from Cecil Community College, Yoder hit .359 in his one season while driving in 18 RBIs and stealing 13 bases. His average would top all Liberty hitters if part of the roster last season and adds a potential .300 hitter to the Flames' lineup as roster turnover commences.