Jan. 25, 2013
HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team, ranked as high as No. 17 in the country in one national preseason poll, held its first practice of 2013 at Reckling Park on Friday (Jan. 25). Rice head coach Wayne Graham welcomed back 18 returning lettermen from last season's squad that went 41-19, won the Conference USA regular season championship, and hosted a home Regional in the NCAA Tournament.
On the first day of practice Coach Graham, who is now in his 22nd season at the helm of the baseball program, had the team in batting practice and fielding drills before a Blue-Gray scrimmage. His 2013 squad returns four of the nine starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers from a year ago. The Owls have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring.
Rice's talented team is no secret in college baseball circles. The Owls are ranked 17th in the country in the USA Today Coaches Poll, 18th by Baseball America and 20th according to Collegiate Baseball magazine. Even with preseason rankings the team has to prepare for a challenging 2013 schedule in a short time. The Blue & Gray officially open the schedule in just three short weeks with a three-game home series against national powerhouse Stanford on Feb. 15-17. The Cardinal are ranked in the Top 10 of every preseason poll and as high as No. 4 in the nation.
Under the direction of coach Graham, who is now in his 22nd season at the helm of the program, the Owls have won at least 40 games in each of the last 18 seasons and have won or shared 17-consecutive conference championships (including regular season and/or conference tournament titles). Rice won the 2012 Conference USA championship on the last day of the regular season and advanced to NCAA Regionals for an 18th-straight year.
In 2013 Rice is led by senior second baseman Christian Stringer and junior right-handed pitcher Austin Kubitza. The Owl duo were both recently named preseason All-America selections by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).