Liberty's DJ Artis (Aaron Fitt)


Fall Report: Liberty

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Jim Toman has had some good clubs at Liberty. The Flames have topped 40 wins in three of the last six years, made back-to-back regionals in 2013-14, and were on the brink of a third straight regional trip last year before a rough final two weeks torpedoed their at-large hopes. So this program knows talent — but Toman and pitching coach Garrett Quinn say they have never had a pitching staff as deep as their current group.

Ace Jared Lyons is gone, but Liberty returns Saturday starter Victor Cole, a polished senior lefthander who went 5-3, 2.67 in 84.1 innings last year. Cole, whose father of the same name reached the big leagues with the Pirates in 1992, has seen his velocity jump from the 84-88 range last year to the 86-89 range this fall, and he knows how to pitch with a very good changeup and quality curveball.

Cole will be a steady member of the rotation this spring, and fellow senior Carson Herndon will give the Flames more experience on weekends. Herndon has made 25 starts and posted a 3.20 ERA in his career, but he missed last season due to Tommy John surgery. He has come back strong this fall, though he’s still working on fully recovering his command. In his start last week in Liberty’s fall world series, Herndon worked in the 85-89 range, but he is capable of touching 92 with a solid low-80s slider and changeup.

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