Liberty slugger Will Shepherd (Aaron Fitt)


Fall Report: Liberty

Fall Report

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Leadoff man D.J. Artis set the tone right away for Liberty in Saturday’s scrimmage against Virginia. Artis, the 2016 Big South freshman of the year, worked the count full in the first inning against Virginia starter Derek Casey, then fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch before finally popping out. The next batter, senior outfielder Will Shepherd, followed by grinding out another long at-bat before eventually grounding out to second.

Though neither at-bat resulted in a hit, they were emblematic of what kind of team Liberty hopes to be under first-year head coach Scott Jackson.

“I’ve got some veteran hitters,” Jackson said. “D.J.’s at-bat to start the game, him and Shepherd, I thought they made Casey throw 14, 15 pitches just to get two outs, and that’s always good just to see those guys get up there and compete. I think that’s what today was all about — you’re just trying to watch your guys compete, see who looks like they’re in the moment, who’s got the fortitude to get you through some big situations. So it was good for us to have some fans in the seats and watch them get after it.”

And the Flames did get after it in the predetermined 14-inning scrimmage, playing with energy, playing sound defense and working plenty of deep counts — especially in the later innings against less experienced pitching. Though the Cavs led 8-4 after nine innings, the Flames wound up technically winning the scrimmage 13-10 — not that either coach was concerned with the final score. This was a day to work on some things, to put young players in challening situations against external competition, and take stock of your team.


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