Feb. 14 (Sat.) 4 pm; Texas at Rice
Owl great and Washington Nationals Silver Slugger Award winner Anthony Rendon throws out the first pitch!
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Feb. 15 (Sun.) 1 pm; Texas at Rice
METHODIST TRADING CARD GIVEAWAY (Set 1 of 5) - The 1st 750 fans will receive the first of five sets of Rice Baseball Trading Cards, courtesy of Methodist! Watch the game on the web
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Rice Baseball Opens 2014 Season Friday at Home Friday Night vs. Rival Texas
The Rice baseball team, 42-20 a year ago and a consensus Top 25 team in the current preseason polls, opens the 2015 campaign on Friday (Feb. 13) at home against longtime rival Texas. The Owls host the Longhorns (46-21 in 2014) in a four-game weekend series at Reckling Park. Start time for the season-opener is set for 6 pm. There are two games slated for Saturday, at noon and 4 pm. Sunday's series finale is set for 1 pm.
Separate Tickets Needed For Each Game Saturday!
All fans should be sure to note a separate ticket is required for each of the two games on Saturday. Reckling Park will be cleared between the two games.
Game Day Parking
Rice University is in the early stages of building the new Moody Center for the Arts adjacent to Reckling Park. Like any major construction project, a host of changes to the old routine are now under way. There is a charge for game day parking, with the lone exception being FREE parking in the Greenbriar Lot on the west side of Rice Stadium (football). Fans may purchase season or individual-game parking passes by calling the ticket office at 713-348-6957. Limited complimentary parking and a host of other game day benefits are also available by supporting Rice student-athletes with a gift to the Owl Club.
Friday Night's Game One of Nine Radio Broadcasts This Season
Rice baseball returns to the radio airwaves for nine games in 2015 as part of an agreement between Rice IMG Sports Properties and ESPN Deportes Houston (1180 am). The slate of on-air games begins with Friday's season-opener vs. Texas. J.P. Heath, the Voice of the Owls, will once again call the action for the Rice baseball broadcasts, both over the air on ESPN Deportes and online at RiceOwls.com. It's the first time since 2010 that Owls baseball has been available on radio. The nine games selected include six at home and three on the road, with five games slated for Fridays and four others on Tuesday nights. The respective openers of the Owls' home series vs. Texas and Stanford will both be broadcast, as will road contests with TCU (March 3) and Texas A&M (April 7). It also includes a pair of games with crosstown rivals Houston (April 14 & May 12). Each broadcast will be preceded by a 15-minute pregame show.
Watch The Games On OwlVision All Access
Home games and all C-USA league games are slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). Information about the service and subscription prices are available at RiceOwls.com.
Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending home games can listen to the Rice broadcast at Reckling Park via an FM proximity transmitter. J.P. Heath is back for his seventh season as the regular voice of the Owls.
98th Season On The Baseball Diamond
Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2015 season is, however, only the Owls' 99th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since. The Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,946 - 1,529 - 9.
Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceOwlsBSB while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceOwlsdotcom.
Live Stats On GameTracker
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every game are posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, the baseball schedule page.
National Rankings Update Owls Debut at No. 13
Rice is nationally-ranked in a host of different college baseball polls. The Owls are No. 13 in the nation according to the D1Baseball.com preseason rankings. Here's a closer look at some of the preseason national rankings, and changes from the final polls of a year ago:
Poll Preseason Final 2014
D1Baseball.com 13 --
NCBWA 15 24
Baseball America 15 NR
College Sports Madness 16 17
USA Today/ESPN 17 25
PerfectGame.com 21 NR
Collegiate Baseball 22 26
High RPI: No. 14 In 2014
If you have disdain for the politics of the various baseball polls and prefer the cold, hard math of the NCAA's Rating Power Index, you'll have to wait a little longer. The NCAA is not scheduled to release the updated RPI for a few weeks yet. A year ago the Owls had the No. 14 RPI in the nation.
Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 24th season at Rice. The 2015 campaign marks his 35th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,039-420 with the Owls (619-154 at home, 323-205 on the road and 97-61 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .712, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .712 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 115 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. Texas is 24-37... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2014, making 20-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13 and `14... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; tenth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; fourth year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; third year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.
1,613 Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,039 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,613 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,613-532 in a 33-year coaching career that began in 1981.
Openers Under Wayne Graham
Looking sharp out of the gate is nothing new for Rice under Wayne Graham. The Owls are 17-6 in their season-opener under Graham and 20-3 in their home-opener.
Coach Graham announced Rice's probable starting pitchers for the Texas series as junior right-hander Kevin McCanna (8-3, 2.69 in 2014) on opening night, followed by junior left-hander Blake Fox (12-0, 1.38) in Saturday's first game of the split twin bill, true freshman Ricardo Salinas in the Saturday nightcap, and junior right-hander Austin Orewiler (1-0, 2.35) in Sunday's series finale.
Kevin McCanna is a veteran with 33 appearances in his collegiate career, including 17 starting assignments. A year ago McCanna finished second on the team, and eighth in Conference USA, in both victories (8) and innings pitched (93.2). He pitched into the seventh inning in 7-of-12 starts, with one of the early departures at 6.0 innings vs. Purdue after the Owls had built a comfortable 20-3 lead. The Woodlands, Texas, native averaged 6.2 innings and held opponents to a .247 batting average as a starter. McCanna also averaged a 6.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and maintained a 2.7-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He began 2014 as the "Sunday" pitcher in the weekend rotation (in addition to four relief appearances and one midweek start), before being promoted to a new "Friday night" role for the remainder of the year. McCanna thrived as the series-opening pitcher, winning 5-of-7 outings while maintaining a steady 1.76 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP in 51.0 innings. He was the opening pitcher in the C-USA Tournament and held heavy-hitting FIU to a pair of runs over 7.1 innings. The righty then returned just four days later to pitch another 4.0 frames in relief in the Championship Final against a UTSA squad that defeated him in the regular season. The former TWHS Highlander had a good case to be named to the league's all-tournament team, going 2-0 with a composite 2.38 ERA for 11.1 total innings (but was somehow overlooked by the voting attending members of the media). McCanna started the Owls' opening game of the NCAA Regional against Atlantic 10 Conference champion George Mason, where he allowed just one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts over 7.1 innings in a no-decision. He fired a complete game, 9.0 inning shutout in the opener of a key C-USA series against league runner-up UAB, propelling his team to a three-game sweep of the Blazers. It's worth noting that with the sweep the Owls went on to win the C-USA regular season crown over that same UAB team by exactly three games. It's equally notable the 9-inning gem was not McCanna's longest outing of the season. Rice has had dozens and dozens of complete games pitched the last few years, but in a March 8 start against eventual NCAA Tournament-bound Old Dominion, McCanna went 9.1 innings for the longest outing by an Owl pitcher in more than a decade. A year ago he also made two relief appearances totaling 7.1 innings against Texas and did not allow an earned run.
A host of news organizations have a preseason All-America team leading up to the 2015 campaign, and Blake Fox is on just about every one of them. The Owls' junior left-hander is undefeated in his Rice career, posting a perfect 18-0 record in a total of 35 appearances dating back to his freshman season of 2013. One of three finalists for the 2014 National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Hall of Fame, Fox responded to his new role in the weekend rotation with aplomb - winning 12-of-15 "Saturday starts" while maintaining a steady 1.46 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He was the first Owl to win 12 games in a single season since 2006. The former prep standout from nearby Episcopal HS finished fifth in the nation, and led C-USA, in victories. Fox was 13th in Division I, and second in the league, in ERA. Fox also ranked among the C-USA leaders in starts (third, 15), hits-per-9 innings (9th, 7.57), strikeouts (11th, 69) and WHIP (11th). His wins were over eventual College World Series participant TCU at Minute Maid Park, nationally ranked Stanford and FIU on the road, Southern Miss, East Carolina, UTSA, FAU, Tulane, LA Tech, Purdue and Middle Tennessee (twice). He pitched into the seventh inning in 14-of-15 starts, with the lone exception being 5.1 innings against Purdue where the Owls had already built a 7-1 advantage by the 6th (and went on to win 9-1). Fox went a career-long 8.1 innings on the road at Tulane where he tied a career-best with eight strikeouts. He held all opponents to a .236 batting average and maintained a 2.6-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. In a preseason poll of the 12 C-USA head coaches, Fox was named the 2015 C-USA Pitcher of Year. Pitching was only part of the story, however. Fox is a versatile enough athlete that in 2014 he made seven additional appearances either as a first baseman, designated hitter or pinch hitter (against right-handed pitching).
In his preseason assessment of the 2015 Owls, coach Graham described true freshman Ricardo Salinas as "one of our prize recruits." Even before the rookie right-hander from Northshore High School in Houston posted some sensational outings during the Owls' (2014) fall training program, Salinas had distinguished himself as a talented prospect on the local, state and national levels. In his prep career he went 16-5 on the mound with a 1.88 ERA and 283 strikeouts in 172.2 innings. In addition to being named both a Texas- and a Houston-area all-star, Salinas was tabbed as a two-time All-Greater Houston selection by the Houston Chronicle. PerfectGame rated him as one of the top 200 seniors in the nation after he earned selection to the 17-U PerfectGame World Series All-Tournament Team. Don't overlook him on non-pitching days either, as he also batted .405 with three home runs and 24 RBI as a Northshore senior. A start on the mound Saturday would make Salinas the first Owl true freshman to start in the opening weekend of a series since 2012 when rookie Jordan Stephens took the mound for a Sunday series finale vs. FIU.
In 2014 Austin Orewiler put together a solid first competitive season with 12 appearances, all in relief. A starting assignment would be the first of his collegiate career. In 2014 the right-hander from Galveston, Texas, maintained a 2.35 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP while holding opponents to a composite .200 batting average in 15.1 innings. Though it was his first season to play, Orewiler seemed to come up with some pretty sharp outings against the best opponents. In six games vs. eventual NCAA Tournament teams totaling 7.2 innings, he did not allow any runs on five hits and held opposing hitters to a .185 batting average. Orewiler pitched a career-long 3.0 shutout frames against SEC foe Texas A&M, followed by another 2.1 scoreless innings in the finale vs. red-hot Houston. He closed out the year with a streak of 8.1 scoreless innings over four appearances, where he allowed just two singles and two walks with six strikeouts. The summer and fall of 2014 is where the former Ball HS Tor made his biggest pitching improvement. He added a new release point in his delivery and a series of elite outings in the program's Blue-Gray scrimmages quickly caught the coaches' attention. It's been more than a few years in the making for the older of the two Orewiler brothers currently on the roster, but a first career start would be memorable even if it weren't against a Texas team ranked No. 3 in the nation.
Rice's Top Crowds at Reckling Park
Big, spirited crowds are nothing new for Rice at home at Reckling Park. Last season a pair of big crowds joined the Reckling Park ledgers as two of the biggest to watch the Owls in action. Here's a closer look at Rice's top-attended games at Reckling Park.
1. Texas (March 17, 2009) 6,193
2. Texas (March 16, 2010) 5,469
3. Texas A&M (June 7, 2008) 5,368
Texas A&M (June 8, 2008) 5,368
5. Texas State (May 17, 2011) 5,320
6. Texas Southern (May 2, 2012) 5,250
7. Texas A&M (June 9, 2007) 5,234
8. Texas (April 20, 2005) 5,227
9. Texas (May 31, 2014) 5,199
10. Texas A&M (April 22, 2014) 5,125
Big Opening Series
Rice baseball has a long-history of testing itself with some tough, but very popular, opening series - like this weekend vs Texas. In 2013 three games vs. Stanford brought in a total of 12,237 fans for the best-attended opening weekend in Reckling Park history. The mark eclipsed the previous record set when Stanford visited two years before that (in 2011). Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Note that many of the previous opening weekends were in a tournament format where the Owls played against three different opponents on consecutive days.)
Year 1st Weekend (Average)
2013 12,237 (4,079)
2011 12,182 (4,060)
2009 10,950 (3,650)
2004 10,117 (3,372)
2012 9,615 (3,205)
2010 9,198 (3,066)
Conference Titles Streak Now At 19-Straight
Rice has won or shared a total of 19-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and now nine C-USA titles in as many years. The Owls won the 2014 C-USA regular season title by a comfortable three-game margin, then completed the title sweep by taking the league tournament last in Hattiesburg, Miss. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 19 years:
Year Conf. Regular Season Conf. Tourney
2014 C-USA 1st 1st
2013 C-USA tied 1st 1st
2012 C-USA 1st tied 5th
2011 C-USA tied 1st 1st
2010 C-USA 1st 2nd
2009 C-USA 2nd 1st
2008 C-USA 1st tied 7th
2007 C-USA 1st 1st
2006 C-USA 1st 1st
2005 WAC 1st no tourney
2004 WAC 1st no tourney
2003 WAC 1st no tourney
2002 WAC 1st no tourney
2001 WAC 1st no tourney
2000 WAC tied 1st no tourney
1999 WAC 1st 1st
1998 WAC 1st South Div. 1st
1997 WAC 1st South Div. 1st
1996 SWC tied 6th 1st
National Postseason Streak At 20-Straight
Rice baseball's 20-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest active streak. In 2014 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 42nd-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (37) and Cal State Fullerton (23). Rice's 20-straight NCAA Tournament bids is the sixth-longest postseason streak in Division I baseball history.
20-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 20-straight seasons of posting at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 41 wins in 19 of the last 20 years.
Solid In C-USA Regular Season
Since its first Conference USA baseball campaign in the spring of 2006, Rice's regular-season record in C-USA league games is 169-53 (.761).
The 2015 Conference USA Favorites
IRVING, Texas - With three preseason all-conference players, including the Owl duo of Blake Fox and John Clay Reeves as the respective 2015 Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year, the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll. All twelve of the C-USA head coaches voted Rice as the preseason favorite for 2015. Since joining the conference in 2006 the Owls have been the league favorite every year there has been a poll (officially nine-of-the-last-ten years as there was no coaches poll conducted in 2010). This season Owls return five offensive starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers who helped lead last year's squad to a 42-20 overall record, the C-USA regular season and tournament titles, and to a home NCAA Regional at Reckling Park. Rice's veteran standouts, including Fox (Jr., LHP), Reeves (Sr., C), and fellow C-USA preseason honoree Matt Ditman (Jr., RHP), all have the full attention of the C-USA head coaches.
2015 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS (selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (12)
3. Old Dominion
4. Southern Miss
6. Florida Atlantic
8. Middle Tennessee
12. Louisiana Tech
(first place votes in parentheses)
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
John Clay Reeves, Rice (Senior, C)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Blake Fox, Rice (Junior, Left-hander)
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
P Blake Fox Jr. Rice
P Alex Luna Sr. UAB
P Chris Mourelle So. FIU
RP Matt Ditman Jr. Rice
C John Clay Reeves Sr. Rice
IF Josh Anderson Sr. FIU
IF Ryan Church Sr. WKU
IF P.J. Higgins Jr. Old Dominion
IF Taylor Love Jr. Louisiana Tech
IF Stephen Kerr So. Florida Atlantic
OF Jared Allen Sr. Middle Tennessee
OF Brendon Sanger Jr. Florida Atlantic
OF Nick Walker So. Old Dominion
DH/UT Matt Durst Sr. Southern Miss)
Take A Closer Look At Last Year
Rice had 20 losses in 2014, but a closer look is in order. More than one-third of the losses (7) were to teams that were nationally-ranked when the Owls faced them. Nine of the 20 losses were by a single run - of which three were in extra innings and another was in the bottom of the ninth. The final margin in 13 of the losses was two runs (or less). Also consider that the Owls saw a number of last season's star players, including Jordan Stephens, Zech Lemond, Shane Hoelscher, Leon Byrd and John Clay Reeves, all sidelined at various points during the season.
Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2014 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms was as follows:
10-6 in all-white,
13-3 in the home alternate (`birds'),
7-1 in all-gray,
6-2 in blue tops with white pants,
3-2 in blue tops with gray pants,
3-6 in the road alternate (`birds-gray').
Streaks Carrying Over...
Because the NCAA recognizes hitting streaks carried-over from one college season to the next, senior Ford Stainback enters Friday night with a five-game hitting streak. Owls Hunter Kopycinski, Blake Fox, and Kirby Taylor all have active four-game hitting streaks.
Did You Know?
Last season Rice was 32-3 when leading after the sixth inning. Credit some solid work out the Owl bullpen from Matt Ditman (58.1 innings, 9 saves), Trevor Teykl (43.0 inn., 3 saves), Ryan McCarthy (28.0 inn., 1 save) and Austin Orewiler (15.1 inn., 1 save) to name just a few of the staff's key contributors.
Facing An Opponent Four Times
It's not a three-game season-open series vs. Texas, but four meetings in three days. It's not so unheard-of to play one team four times in a college season. When including the game in last season's NCAA Regional, Rice and Texas met a total of four times over the course of 2014. The Owls played three C-USA regular season games against FIU, Middle Tennessee and UTSA last season, and then added a fourth against those same teams near the end of the year in the conference tournament. A year ago Rice ended up playing league foe Old Dominion five times after meeting the Monarchs twice in the conference tournament. In two weeks the Owls play their second four-game series of season vs. national power Stanford.
Rice Since 1999
Using the 1999 season as the starting point (the year the NCAA expanded the postseason tournament field to 64 teams with the current Super Regional format), Rice baseball has maintained one of the nation's top win percentages over the last 16 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2014:
Team Years Wins Loses Ties PCT
Florida State 16 791 278 1 .740
Rice 16 762 280 0 .731
North Carolina 16 729 301 1 .708
South Carolina 16 748 312 0 .706
Cal St. Fullerton 16 700 299 0 .701
Texas 16 717 314 1 .695
Arizona State 16 637 289 2 .688
LSU 16 708 321 6 .687
Coastal Carolina 16 675 310 0 .685
Miami (Fla.) 16 682 313 3 .685
Oral Roberts 16 654 307 0 .681
Georgia Tech 16 676 329 1 .672
Wichita State 16 703 357 0 .663
Virginia 16 640 331 3 .659
Stanford 16 635 340 2 .651
Clemson 16 677 363 1 .651
Nebraska 16 632 342 2 .649
East Carolina 16 619 347 3 .640
Tulane 16 623 352 2 .639
Southern 16 474 272 0 .635
Florida Atlantic 16 609 351 1 .634
C. of Charleston 16 600 346 1 .634
Oregon State 16 585 338 0 .634
Oklahoma State 16 613 355 0 .633
TCU 16 616 360 0 .631
Kent State 16 600 351 0 .631
Florida 16 633 373 2 .629
Notre Dame 16 596 353 5 .627
Mississippi 16 621 376 1 .623
Louisville 16 607 368 1 .622
Texas A&M 16 619 378 3 .621
Ohio State 16 587 359 1 .620
Vanderbilt 16 607 374 0 .619
UL-Lafayette 16 604 372 1 .619
Nine (9) Televised Games In Regular Season
The people in the business of selecting games for television broadcasts have a good idea of the teams the public want to see. So far nine Rice regular season games are slated for a TV broadcast and that number could still grow over the course of the year, not including a possible TV appearance in the championship final of the C-USA Tournament in late May. Here is Rice's "starting nine" in the upcoming TV lineup:
Feb. 20 (Fri.) at Arizona, PAC-12 Network;
Feb. 21 (Sat.) at Arizona, PAC-12 Network
Feb. 22 (Sun.) at Arizona, PAC-12 Network
Mar. 3 (Tues.) at TCU, FOXSSW+
Mar. 27 (Fri.) vs. Southern Miss, FOX Sports 1;
Apr. 18 (Sat.) vs. UTSA, ASN
Apr. 26 (Sun.) at Western Kentucky, ASN
May 9 (Sat.) at Florida Atlantic, ASN
May 16 (Sat.) vs. FIU, FOX Sports Net
Legends of the Fall
Registering consistent off-season performances in the program's fall training period is still one of the best ways to catch a coach's attention in college baseball, and the Owls' 2014 fall training was no exception. Newcomers like true freshmen Ricardo Salinas and Ryan Chandler turned in sound and solid outings to give themselves a possible wealth of playing time this spring. Salinas maintained a 2.35 ERA in 23.0 fall innings while striking out 17 with a .227 opponents' batting average. Chandler, a local prep star from Strake Jesuit, batted .294 while playing sensational defense in centerfield... Freshman Glenn Otto distinguished himself as a right-handed option on the mound... Junior shortstop Leon Byrd meanwhile showed perhaps the biggest improvement over the last calendar year while batting a team-best .431 with a .608 fall slugging percentage.
Owls Ink Eight In Early Signing Period
The Rice baseball program has signed eleven high school standouts in the early period who will join the team for the 2016 season. The list of newest Owls includes: Dominic DiCaprio, Zachary Esquivel, Kendal Jefferies, Gavin Johnson, Jackson Parthasarathy, Jay Proctor, Braden Rollins, Brent Schwarz, Jacob Simon, Cody Staab, and Lucas Wakamatsu. The group consists of four pitchers, two catchers, two infielders, an outfielder and two multi-position players who are versatile enough to contribute as both a pitcher and/or position player/hitter. All are from the high school ranks. Eight are from Texas and two are from the greater Houston area.
Owls Ranked Among National Leaders
Last season Rice's team and individual performances proved to be among the nation's best. Here's a closer look at where the Owls finished among the NCAA leaders in selected categories compared to 300 Division I programs:
Team Statistic Category NCAA Rank
Batting Average 32 Runs 50
Doubles 55 Sacrifice Bunts 17
Sacrifice Flies 23
Earned Run Average 13 Strikeouts Per Nine Innings 35
Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings 20 Fielding Percentage 14 Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 29
W-L Pct. 31 WHIP 20 Shutouts 19
Indv. Statistic Category Player Rank
Runs Per Game Skyler Ewing 48
Runs Skyler Ewing 25
Hits Skyler Ewing 55
Michael Aquino 92
Doubles Shane Hoelscher 16
Triples Keenan Cook 39
Home Runs Skyler Ewing 65
Runs Batted In Skyler Ewing 89
Total Bases Skyler Ewing 52
Michael Aquino 73
Hit by Pitch Keenan Cook 42
Sacrifice Bunts Keenan Cook 59
Sacrifice Flies Michael Aquino 56
Earned Run Average Blake Fox 13
Matt Ditman 45
Victories Blake Fox 5
Kevin McCanna 89
Saves Matt Ditman 58
Strikeouts Per Nine Innings Matt Ditman 20
Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings Matt Ditman 47
Walks Allowed Per Nine Innings Matt Ditman 70
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio Matt Ditman 14
WHIP Matt Ditman 16
Games Started Blake Fox 98