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Rice Hosts Longtime Foe Texas State at 6:30 PM
In 2017 his influence on a young Rice pitching staff was easy to see. Pope (Jones College 1990) trained two Owl pitchers who had never been drafted before into selections in the Top 6 rounds of the MLB Draft. Rice rookie right-hander Matt Canterino was named to the 2017 Conference USA All-Freshman Team while also pitching his way onto the league's All-Tournament squad in Biloxi, Miss.
Pope returned to his alma mater after serving nine seasons as the head baseball coach at Cypress Ranch High School where his squads won state championships in both 2012 and 2015. In both championship seasons the Houston native and former Owl pitcher was named the 5A/6A Coach of the Year by the Texas Sports Writers Association. With a full 19 years of coaching (and teaching) at the high school level, a host of Pope's former players have gone on to play baseball at the college level.
Consider that the Cy Ranch baseball program Pope started from scratch in 2008 went on to win the state title four years later by the time those players were seniors in 2012. Along the way he earned a Masters (in Educational Administration from Lamar University in 2009) and worked in the leadership of the Texas High School Coaches Association. In addition to nine seasons as the head coach at Cy Ranch, Pope has coached and taught at Cy Fair, Scarborough and Westbury high schools.
In 25 career appearances at Rice Pope registered a total of 102 strikeouts in 87.2 innings. He had one save to go along with five career wins, the highlight being the winning pitcher in the Owls' 6-4 Southwest Conference victory over Texas in 1989 -- the same year the Longhorns went on to finish second in the College World Series.
Pope was a left-handed prep standout at Westbury High School who played his final two collegiate seasons at Rice in 1988 and 1989.
"Coming back to Rice and having a chance to learn under coach Graham is an amazing opportunity, and a dream come true," Pope said. "I have followed the program very closely this whole time. I may not have played for coach Graham when I was at Rice, but am proud of what he has done for my school."
John and his wife, Tricia, have been married 22 years. The couple have two children: Taylor (21) and Jeffrey (19);