Feb. 22, 2013
All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.
Aloha! Rice Plays Four Games At Hawaii Starting On Friday Night
The Rice baseball team, 2-2 on the young season and ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation, is away from Reckling Park for each of the next seven games. The Owls are making an extensive road trip to start things off, but there's no road to this destination. Rice has a four-game weekend series at the University of Hawaii Feb. 22-25 (Fri.-Mon.). The trip to Honolulu is Rice's first time back in Hawaii since its membership in the Western Athletic Conference in the spring of 2005. The start times at Hawaii are listed above. (Note that the listings are all Central Time).
Watch The Hawaii Games On-line
Live video for three of this weekend's four Rice-Hawaii games are being shown on-line for free by the University of Hawaii. The webcasts lined-up by Hawaii are Friday, Sunday and Monday. Log on to the above link for that day's game.
Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web & At The Park
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Use the above link to access the Internet audio page. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games, home or away, can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM. J.P. Heath returns as the voice of the Owls this season and for some selected games he will be joined in the Rice booth by former lettermen Enrique Cruz or Jimmy Comerota.
Live Stats On GameTracker
Live play-by-play text and statistics from every game will be posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, or the baseball schedule page.
National Ranking Update As High As No. 10
With its dramatic weekend series-win over Stanford to start the season, Rice rose-up through a host of different national polls. Here's a closer look at the latest national rankings:
|Poll||This Week||Last Week|
|Collegiate Baseball Magazine||10||20|
|College Sports Madness||15||--|
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 22nd season at Rice. The 2013 campaign marks his 33rd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 955-382 with the Owls (576-139 at home, 288-189 in road games and 91-54 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .715, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .715 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. Hawaii is 32-10 (17-4 home, 15-6 road)...... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2012, making 18-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. 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 and 2012 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11... 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; eighth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; second year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; first year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepperd coaches at first base.
1,529 Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 955 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,529 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,529-495 in a 32-year coaching career that began in 1981.
Probable Rice Pitchers
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' first two probable starting pitchers for the Hawaii series as the right-handed duo of Austin Kubitza and Jordan Stephens. The Rice pitchers for the remaining games this week will be announced by coach Graham at a later time.
Previous Outing: Dallas Baptist Defeats Owls 6-2 Tuesday
HOUSTON - HOUSTON - Visiting Dallas Baptist held-off two late Rice rallies to claim a 6-4 win over the Owls' baseball team Tuesday evening at Reckling Park in Houston... Dallas Baptist jumped on the scoreboard for a run in the top of the first inning and built a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. Rice continued to fight and battled back for a total of three runs in the sixth and seventh innings. True freshman Blake Fox delivered a one-out single through the right side to score the first two in the sixth. In the seventh, freshman Leon Byrd drew a one-out walk and Ford Stainback singled to left. The runners advanced on a fielder's choice and then moved up another 90 feet on a wild pitch. Byrd alertly made an allusive slide to avoid the tag attempt at home, which cut the margin to just two, 6-4... The Blue & Gray still had two men on base in the seventh inning, but DBU worked out the jam and then turned a key double-play in the bottom of the eighth after Fox had led off with a single - his fourth base hit in as many official at bats this young season for a perfect 1.000 batting average four games into his Division I career. Freshman Connor Teykl brought the fans to their feet with a long fly that DBU snared for an out a step in front of the right field wall... Rice head coach Wayne Graham used a total of six Owls on the mound in the contest. Redshirt-freshman Matt Ditman started in his collegiate debut and struck out four in 2.2 innings of work. Chase McDowell, Holt McNair, Tyler Spurlin, Evan Rutter and Kevin McCanna all saw action. The staff finished with a combined total of 11 strikeouts and none of the Patriots' eight hits went for extra bases. Coach Graham stated there was plenty of positives and things to build-on, but wanted to be clear that the staff could help itself even more without allowing DBU nine free base-runners. The Owls surrendered four walks and hit five batters, the most hit batsmen in a single game since the 2010 season... "You can't do that and win," coach Graham said. "You don't win many games when you give-up nine free passes. We're still trying a lot of pitchers," he said. "That doesn't really excuse us from not having more offense. We didn't do a very good job hitting early. The good part is McCanna threw lights out," Graham explained of his freshman right-hander. The Owl newcomer from The Woodlands, Tex., was a draftee by the San Diego Padres last summer but chose to enroll at Rice. He impressed coaches as a rookie in the fall training program made his collegiate debut the game's final frames Tuesday. McCanna pitched the last 1.2 innings without allowing any hits nor walks, while striking out two... "He's ready to go," coach Graham added.
Openers Under Wayne Graham
Looking sharp out of the gate is nothing new for Rice under Wayne Graham. The Owls are 16-6 in their season-opener under Graham and 19-3 in their home-opener.
Big Opening Weekend Series At Reckling Park
Hosting Stanford in an important season-opening series was not lost on college baseball fans. The three games vs. the Cardinal 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 ago. Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Note that many of the previous opening weekends were in a tournament format against three different opponents.)
Year, 1st Weekend Total (Average)
1. 2012 - 12,237 (4,079)
2. 2011 - 12,182 (4,060)
3. 2009 - 10,950 (3,650)
4. 2004 - 10,117 (3,372)
5. 2012 - 9,615 (3,205)
6. 2010 - 9,198 (3,066)
Rice Baseball's 97th Season On The Field
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 2013 season is, however, only the Owls' 97th 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 1,862 - 1,491- 9.
Postseason Streak At 18-Straight, Looking For 19
The Rice baseball program's 18-straight appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship is the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) has made the field for the 40 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (35) and Cal State Fullerton (21). Rice's 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is the sixth-longest national postseason streak in Division I history.
Conference Championship Streak At 17-Straight
Rice has won or shared a total of 17-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and seven Conference USA titles in as many years... In 2012 Rice won the C-USA regular season championship on the last day of the league's 24-game schedule. The Owls and UCF were tied for first in the C-USA standings heading into the final game of the season. The Blue & Gray clipped the Knights 5-2 to welcome the program's 17th championship to the family.
18-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 18-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 41 wins in 17 of the last 18 years.
Two TV Games Later This Season
There are two regular season Rice games tabbed for a television broadcast on FOX Sports Net. The Owls' March 28 home game against Conference USA foe Tulane is the first televised contest. The other is the April 20 game at crosstown rival Houston, which the network has now moved to a new 12:30 pm start time... Rice's number of televised games could still increase during the course of the year, including regular season games and in the C-USA Championship to be held May 22-26 at Reckling Park. The tournament's championship final (May 26 at 1 pm) is again set for a television broadcast on CBS College Sports.
Rice's 2013 Games Selected For Television Broadcast
March 28 vs. Tulane - 6:30 pm FOX Sports Net
*April 20 vs. Houston - 12:30 pm FOX Sports Net
(May 26 C-USA Championship Final - 1 pm) CBS College Sports
* - denotes a new starting time
Kubitza & Stringer Garner National Preseason Honors
WICHITA, Kan. - The veteran Rice duo of junior Austin Kubitza and senior Christian Stringer have been tabbed as 2013 preseason All-America selections by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America (NCBWA), the organization announced from its headquarters in Wichita Kan... Kubitza and Stringer were both named to the NCBWA's preseason All-America second team as a starting pitcher and second baseman, respectively. The Owl duo helped Rice go 41-19 last season, claim the Conference USA regular season championship and host an NCAA Regional at Reckling Park... In his first season of Division I baseball after transferring from Navarro College, Stringer took C-USA by storm. The junior second baseman batted a team-leading .343 in 59 starts, and he maintained a .389 average in C-USA league games. Stringer also led the team and ranked among the conference leaders in hits (81), runs (58) and on-base percentage (.448). The Longview, Tex., native was second in walks (38) and steals (6), but his defense might have made the biggest impact to the Owls. Stringer maintained a .978 fielding percentage at second base where he turned or started 35 of the Owls' 46 double plays... A year ago Kubitza finished with a 6-5 record and he was second on the staff in ERA (2.69), innings pitched (80.1) and strikeouts (73). The right-hander from Colleyville, Tex., shared the team lead in starts (15) and he held all opposing hitters to an austere .211 batting average. He was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year after his first Division I season in 2011.
The C-USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With three preseason all-conference players, including the duo of junior Austin Kubitza and Christian Stringer as the 2013 Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively, the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll the C-USA office announced... Stringer and Kubitza (season info provided above) are joined by fellow Owl Michael Ratterree on the preseason All-Conference USA team, giving Rice a league-high-tying three selections. Ratterree posted a .407 slugging percentage last season with 20 extra-base hits (13 doubles, one triple and six home runs). The local standout from Memorial High School drew a team-high 42 walks, giving him a .378 on-base percentage. He also drove in 33 runs and unselfishly moved to a new defensive position in the outfield to better-help the team... Under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham Rice returns four of the nine starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers from a year ago. The Owls also have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring.
2013 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
(as selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (7)
2. Southern Miss (1)
3. East Carolina
5. Tulane (1)
(first place votes in parentheses)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Christian Stringer, Rice (Senior, Infielder)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)
P Austin Kubitza, Jr., Rice
P Sam Moll, Jr. Memphis
P Andrew Pierce, Sr., Southern Miss
RP Bradley Roney, So., Southern Miss
C Ryan Breen, Sr. UCF
IF Garrett Cannizaro, Sr., Tulane
IF Brennan Middleton, Sr., Tulane
IF Jack Reinheimer, Jr., East Carolina
IF Christian Stringer, Sr., Rice
IF Chris Taladay, Sr., UCF
OF Landon Appling, Jr., Houston
OF Brandon Boudreaux, Sr., Tulane
OF Michael Ratterree, Sr., Rice
OF Mason Robbins, So., Southern Miss
DH/UT Drew Reynolds, Jr., East Carolina
Legends of the Fall
Registering consistent off-season performances in the fall workouts is still one of the best ways to catch a coach's attention in college baseball, and the Owls' 2011 fall training was no exception. Newcomers like true freshmen Leon Byrd and Blake Fox turned in sound and solid outings to give themselves a possible wealth of playing time in the spring. Fox maintained a 2.29 ERA in 19.2 fall innings while striking out 13 strikeouts. Byrd, a former prep star at Cy Ranch High School, batted .275 while playing both centerfield and shortstop in Blue-Gray games and shared the team lead in stolen bases... Redshirt freshman Matt Ditman distinguished himself as a right-handed option on the mound... Junior third baseman Shane Hoelscher meanwhile showed perhaps the biggest improvement over the last calendar year while batting a team-best .418 with a .543 on-base average.
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 14 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2012: (These totals do NOT include games played in 2013).
Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
Florida State, 701-244-1 (.742)
Rice, 676-240-0 (.738)
Coastal Carolina, 615-253-0 (.709)
North Carolina, 635-262-1 (.708)
Oral Roberts, 599-249-0 (.706)
Texas, 644-269-1 (.705)
South Carolina, 661-281-0 (.702)
Arizona State, 567-244-1 (.699)
Cal State Fullerton, 615-265-0 (.699)
Miami, 601-269-3 (.690)
Wichita State, 633-301-0 (.678)
Georgia Tech, 589-281-1 (.677)
LSU, 605-294-5 (.672)
Stanford, 568-292-2 (.660)
Tulane, 570-295-2 (.659)
Nebraska, 562-291-2 (.658)
Clemson, 601-316-1 (.655)
East Carolina, 555-295-1 (.653)
Notre Dame, 542-298-5 (.644)
Florida, 564-320-2 (.638)
Ten For The Show
Ten former Rice players were on major league rosters last season. The Owls' 2013 list of big-leaguers includes David Aardsma (Yankees), Lance Berkman (Rangers), Tim Byrdak (Mets), Tony Cingrani (Reds), Brock Holt (Red Sox), Philip Humber (Astros), Paul Janish (Braves), Lucas Luetge (Mariners), Jeff Niemann (Rays) and Joe Savery (Phillies).