Liberty baseball is set to square off with Florida Gulf Coast in a season-ending series that will determine the ASUN regular season champion.
Winners of five of their last seven, the Flames will host Duke Tuesday before traveling to Fort Myers Thursday, May 16 for the first of a three-game set. Liberty and FCGU have been neck-and-neck atop the ASUN for the past several weeks, and the upcoming weekend series will determine the top seed in the ASUN tournament, which begins Wednesday, May 22.
The Eagles and the Flames rank 2nd and 3rd in the ASUN in team batting average, respectively. Liberty’s pitching staff paces the conference with an ERA of 3.38, while Florida Gulf Coast ranks third with an ERA of 4.30.
Next week’s conference tournament will be held at Melching Field at Conrad Park in Deland, Florida, home of perennial ASUN powerhouse Stetson. If the season ended today, Stetson would clinch a conference birth as the lowest seed in the six-team tournament. The Hatters have struggled to a 21-29 record this season, but home field advantage could sway a close game in Stetson’s favor.
That being said: Stetson (9-11 conference) is in a tight battle with Kennesaw State (9-12 conference) for the tournament’s final seed. Both the Owls and Hatters face ASUN opponents this weekend, and whichever team fares the best in its respective series will clinch a spot in the conference tournament.
While seed no. 6 remains in question, seeds 1-5 in the ASUN are becoming increasingly clear. Liberty and Florida Gulf Coast have clinched conference tournament berths. Regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s series, the Flames and Eagles will be the top two seeds and likely play on opposite sides of the bracket. Jacksonville, North Florida and Lipscomb round out the current top five.
The conference tournament bracket will likely be released late this weekend, upon conclusion of the ASUN’s regular season schedule. Flames fans have little to worry about, provided that regular-season championships pale in comparison to conference tournament championships. Still, capping off an inaugural ASUN season atop the conference’s standings would be an exclamation mark on an all-around dominant year for Liberty athletics.