Defending ASUN tournament champion (from the 2019 season) Liberty was selected by the ASUN Coaches to claim the league title once again in 2021. Liberty shortstop Cam Locklear was also selected as the conference’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and was one of four Liberty selections on the Preseason All-Conference Team.
Starting pitcher Mason Meyer, first baseman Logan Mathieu, and outfielder Gray Betts joined Locklear on the Preseason All-Conference Team. Liberty and Lipscomb led the way with four members each on the preseason team.
Following Liberty in the Preseason Coaches Poll, was Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast, and then Lipscomb, Jacksonville, and Kennesaw State round out the top six. North Florida was picked to finish 7th, followed by North Alabama and league newcomer Bellarmine to round out the poll.
Locklear, the senior shortstop, was a 2019 ASUN All-Tournament team honoree. He ranked third in the league for assists in 2020 with 51 and was sixth in on-base percentage at .466. Locklear recorded a .949 fielding percentage a year ago, committing just four errors as he started all 17 games and ranked second on the Liberty squad with a .316 batting average to go along with three steals and a .430 slugging percentage.
The lefty Mason Meyer returns for his junior season after posting a 3.38 ERA last year with 20 strikeouts. He tossed 21.1 innings over the course of four starts for Liberty with one win.
Mathieu returns to the lineup after missing last season due to injury. In 2019, he led the Flames with 7 home runs and 52 RBI’s with a .410 slugging percentage and .378 on-base percentage. Mathieu added 13 doubles and 43 runs for the ASUN Champions.
An All-Tournament and All-Freshmen Team honoree in 2019, Betts was named a Preseason All-Conference pick for the second consecutive season. The sophomore and Raleigh, North Carolina native recorded 11 hits a year ago to go along with a .312 on-base percentage and added six runs and four RBIs for the Flames.
In 2019, Liberty became the first team since 1993 to capture the ASUN title in its first year as a conference member and advanced to the NCAA Regional for the first time since 2014. In 2020, the Flames started the year 10-7 before the season came to an abrupt end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Flames return seven of nine starters from last season. Along with Locklear, Betts, and Mathieu in the field, Liberty also will return catcher Brady Gulakowski, 2019 ASUN All-Conference second baseman Will Wagner, and outfielders Jaylen Guy and Brandon Rohrer. Meyer and reliever Landon Riley are back to anchor the Flames’ pitching staff.
Liberty is scheduled to begin the season Feb. 19-21 with a three game series at Campbell. The home opener is on Wednesday, Feb. 24 against North Carolina A&T. The Flames will open ASUN play at home March 12-14 against North Alabama.