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Owls Host Dallas Baptist In Three-Game Weekend Series

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Feb. 23, 2012

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    Feb. 24 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Rice vs. Dallas Baptist
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    Feb. 25 (Sat.) 2 pm; Rice vs. Dallas Baptist
    Title Sponsor: Jani King
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    Feb. 26 (Sun.) 1 pm; Rice vs. Dallas Baptist¬
    Special Promotion: Houston Zoo Kids Day! At every Sunday home game all kids 14 and under get to take the field for the National Anthem and run the bases post-game.
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    Undefeated Owls Host Dallas Baptist In Weekend Series
    The undefeated Rice baseball team (5-0) wraps-up its season-opening homestand with a three-game weekend series against 2011 NCAA Super Regional participant Dallas Baptist on Feb. 24-26. Start times against the DBU patriots (3-1) are set for 6:30 pm on Friday, 2 pm Saturday and 1 pm Sunday (all Central Time). The series is the last of eight home games to begin the 2012 season. The Owls play the next five games away from home before returning to Reckling Park on March 7.

    Watch The Games On OwlVision All Access
    Most home baseball 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). The service has been growing in popularity the last few years. Information about the service and subscription prices are available here. Access the service on game day at the above links.

    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 30 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The frequency for the proximity broadcast at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM.

    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 • Rice No. 4
    Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of six different polls to start the 2012 campaign. The team made some progress in the polls after the sweep of FIU last weekend. Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:

    Poll This Week Last Week
    PerfectGame.com 4 4
    Baseball America 5 6
    Collegiate Baseball Magazine 5 7
    NCBWA 7 8
    USA Today/ESPN tba 7
    CollegeBaseballLineup.com tba 4

    Rice University Centennial; 96th Season On The Baseball Field
    Rice University is celebrating its centennial in 2012. 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 2012 season is, however, only the Owls' 96th 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 1,824 - 1,470 - 9.

    Head Coach Wayne Graham
    Four-time national coach of the year and Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 21st season at Rice. The 2012 campaign marks his 32nd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 917-361 with the Owls (555-127 at home, 274-183 in road games and 88-51 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .718, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .718 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this weekend's opponent is: 13-5 vs. Dallas Baptist (12-4 at home, 1-1 away)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2011, making 17-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. 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 and 2011 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 and `10... 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 Mike Taylor (Prairie View A&M, 1997; 12th year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; seventh year), and Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; first year)... On game days Hallmark coaches at third base while Van Hook coaches at first base.

    1,492 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
    Wayne Graham owns 917 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,492 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,492-474 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.

    Probable Rice Pitcher(s)
    Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitching rotation for the Dallas Baptist series as the right-handed duo of sophomore Austin Kubitza (1-0, 1.29) and senior Matthew Reckling (0-0, 0.00), respectively for the first two games. Coach Graham will announce the Sunday starter at a later time.

  • There has been a steady stream of preseason honors for Austin Kubitza, a third team 2012 preseason All-America selection by both Collegiate Baseball magazine and the College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). A year ago Kubitza had an outstanding debut at the Division I level where he was named a Freshman All-America. He went 6-5 on the mound in his role as the Owls' Friday night starter (the spot often matched against the opposing team's ace pitcher). The right-hander from Colleyville, Tex., led the Owls' and ranked among the C-USA leaders in ERA (2.34), innings (100.0) and strikeouts (102). Early in his rookie season he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the annual Houston College Classic tournament held downtown at Minute Maid Park. He was named the C-USA 2011 Freshman of the Year and to the All-Freshman Team on a vote of the league's head coaches and media members. The C-USA head coaches recently tabbed him as the league's 2012 Preseason Pitcher of the Year. On Feb. 10 the local chapter of the baseball writers of America named him the Houston Area Preseason College Player of the Year. In his 2012 debut last weekend, Kubitza allowed one run on four hits and struck out eight in 7.0 innings to earn an Opening Day win against FIU.
  • Last season veteran Matthew Reckling started more games (16) than any other member of the Owls' pitching staff. He not only led the team in opponent's batting average (.214) he was among the C-USA leaders in that category. The 6-foot-4 right-hander was second on the Owls in strikeouts (96) and in innings (78.1), and third in ERA (3.10). Reckling averaged 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. He fanned a career-best nine batters on two occasions (Florida International and Tulane). On Feb. 21 the Houston native earned the first C-USA Pitcher of the Week award for the 2011 season on the strength of a sterling outing vs. nationally-ranked Stanford. Against the Cardinal he scattered four hits and held the Pac-10 power scoreless for a then career-long 6.0 innings. He was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 2011 June draft, but returned to Rice for his senior season. In his 2012 debut against FIU last weekend, Reckling scattered four hits over 6.0 innings while striking out seven. He had a no-decision in a game the Owls won in extra innings. His next start would be his 22nd as an Owl. His all-time Rice record in 48 career appearances is 7-4, and he now has 152 strikeouts for the Blue & Gray.
  • Dallas Baptist announced its probable starting pitchers for the series as sophomore right-hander Jake Johansen (0-0, 6.75), right-handed freshman Cy Sneed (1-0, 0.00) and senior left-hander Taylor Massey (1-0, 0.00).

    Recently vs. DBU
    Rice and DBU have been regular opponents the last few years. With Patriot single-game wins in both 2011 (final score 3-1 in 11 inn.) and 2010 (final 7-6), the Owls have not beaten DBU since 2009. That year the Blue & Gray claimed an 11-8 victory at Reckling Park (April 1) and by a score of 13-6 at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas (March 4).

    Previous Outing: Benak Stands Out In 12-4 Victory Over New Mexico State
    HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team got offensive with 12 runs and double-digit hits for the second time in as many nights, but right-handed pitcher Andrew Benak stole the show with a career-high 10 strikeouts in just 5.1 innings of work as the Owls coasted to a 12-4 victory over visiting New Mexico State Wednesday evening at Reckling Park... In his first start of the season and only his fifth career start since his freshman year in 2009, Benak posted 10 strikeouts without allowing any walks and scattering just two harmless singles in the best outing of his collegiate career. The redshirt-junior from Houston has been sidelined from action for most of the past three seasons, totaling just 35 innings at Rice heading into 2012... Now finally healthy, Benak made up for lost time with a sensational start against a heavy-hitting New Mexico State squad. He struck out the side in the fifth inning and at one point had fanned nine-of-13 batters. He retired the first batter he faced in the sixth and was immediately pulled after a career-day of work. He left to a standing ovation from the home fans... One of the reasons the undefeated Owls (5-0) are a consensus Top 10 team, and ranked as high as fourth in the nation in one national poll, is for its depth of pitching. If a healthy Benak's outing is any indication the Blue & Gray might be even stronger on the mound than most expected... The Rice hitters also had a game to match their starting pitcher. A dramatic two-out rally in the bottom of the second inning ignited the offensive fireworks. With two away and a man on base, five Owl hitters in a row connected for base hits to push across four runs for a 4-0 lead... The Blue & Gray came right back with three more runs in the bottom of the third. Senior Craig Manuel and Shane Hoelscher started the frame with back-to-back singles and designated hitter Chase McDowell followed with three-run homer to left field. McDowell's first longball of the season stretched the margin to 7-0 after three, but Rice wasn't finished... The Owls proceeded to score in single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before adding two more in the seventh. When the dust had finally settled Rice was up a comfortable 12-0. The infield duo of junior Christian Stringer and Shane Hoelscher paced the attack with four hits each. Junior first baseman Ryan Lewis was 3-for-3 with three and RBI. Freshman Ford Stainback chipped-in a pair of hits, including a double, and scored two times... New Mexico State continued to battle, and rallied for four runs off the Owl bullpen in the top of the ninth inning. Rice improved to 5-0 on the young season for the team's best start through the first five games since 2001. New Mexico State dropped to 3-3 overall.

    Did You Know?
    Rice's 5-0 start to the season is the program's best since an identical undefeated ledger to begin 2001. That 2001 squad went 8-0 before suffering its first loss of the season. The national championship team of 2003 was 4-1 through its first five games, and went on to build a 33-1 ledger through the first 34 games of the season.

    Rice Televised Games In 2012
    HOUSTON - Rice Athletics has announced its preliminary lineup of Owl baseball games that will be televised in the upcoming 2012 season. There are 11 Rice games tabbed for a television broadcast by a host of national networks. The number of televised games could still increase during the course of the year, including games in the C-USA Championship where the May 27 Final is set for a broadcast on CBS College Sports... Rice's televised games begin in March. All three Rice games from the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park are set for a broadcast by either ESPN 3 (vs. Texas Tech and Tennessee) and/or The Longhorn Network (vs. Texas). Eight regular season home games from Reckling Park will be televised beginning on March 13. Note there will be a new start time on four of the home games to accommodate the broadcast of contests with Arizona (Mar. 13), Texas State (April 10), and Stephen F. Austin (May 8) - all of which are now 6 pm starts... Rice's May 5 game vs. crosstown rival Houston now begins at 1:30 pm. All three C-USA league games against UH in May will be televised. Rice baseball returns to play on familiar networks with games on CSS Sports, Fox Sports Net, and Fox College Sports. The full 2012 TV lineup for Rice baseball is listed below.

    Rice's 2012 Games Selected For Television Broadcast
    March 2 vs. Texas - 7 pm Longhorn Network
    March 3 vs. Texas Tech - 7 pm ESPN 3
    March 4 vs. Tennessee - 6 pm ESPN 3
    March 13 vs. Arizona - 6 pm* CSS Sports
    March 14 vs. Arizona - 6:30 pm CSS Sports
    April 1 vs. Southern Miss - 1 pm FOX Sports Net
    April 10 vs. Texas State - 6 pm* CSS Sports
    May 4 vs. Houston - 6:30 pm FOX College Sports
    May 5 vs. Houston - 1:30 pm FOX Sports Net
    May 6 vs. Houston - 1 pm CSS Sports
    May 8 vs. Stephen F. Austin - 6 pm* CSS Sports
    (May 27 C-USA Championship - 1 pm) CBS College Sports
    * - denotes a new starting time

    Get a printable Rice Baseball Schedule here Get Acrobat Reader

    The C-USA Favorites
    IRVING, Tex. - With four preseason all-conference players, including sophomore Austin Kubitza as the 2012 Preseason Pitcher of the Year, 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 on Jan. 26.

    The Owls' junior trio of pitcher Tyler Duffey, Michael Ratterree and Jeremy Rathjen joined Kubitza on C-USA's 2012 list, giving Rice the most preseason honorees of any school in the annual coaches' survey.

    Kubitza's honors were mentioned above... Though Jeremy Rathjen's was sidelined with an injury for most of last season, his return to Rice's 2012 lineup was not lost on the C-USA coaches. In 2011 Rathjen started each of the first 16 games in centerfield and as the cleanup hitter where he hit .295. The Houston native from Memorial High School was leading the team in RBI, doubles, multi-hit and multi-RBI games before getting sidelined, but didn't play the final two-thirds of the season. In June Rathjen was regarded high enough to be selected in the major league draft by the New York Yankees, but he chose not to sign professionally and returned to Rice with a redshirt season.

    Ratterree was named to the C-USA outfield, his new position on the team after starting 58 games at second base last season. The 6-foot-1 junior led the Owls (and finished third in C-USA) in both RBI (53) and total bases (125), while sharing the team lead in hitting (.327) and home runs (6). The Houston native and fellow Memorial High School star's hitting in the second half of the season helped pave the way to Rice's C-USA regular season co-championship. In addition to having at least one base hit in 30-of-32 games from April 3 until the end of the year, Ratterree hit an eye-opening .421 with a .640 slugging percentage and 25 runs scored over the team's final 25 games. Last month Collegiate Baseball selected Ratterree to its preseason All-America squad as a second team outfielder.

    Duffey finished third in the conference in appearances (30) and tied for third in the league in wins (8) to go along with a 2.52 ERA, but his sterling play in the second half of the season made the biggest impression on C-USA coaches. Over his last 34.1 innings of the season he maintained a 0.79 ERA, held opponents to a .206 batting average and allowed just one extra-base hit. The area standout from nearby Bellaire High School was named the MVP of the C-USA Tournament after two brilliant outings over a three-day span where Rice claimed the league title and automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

    Rice returns 22 experienced lettermen to the roster in 2012, including eight returning starters in the field and a host of veteran pitchers. The Owls have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring. The Owls were recently ranked sixth in Baseball America's preseason poll and seventh by Collegiate Baseball.

    2012 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
    (as selected by C-USA's head coaches)

    PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
    1. Rice (8)

    2. UCF (1)
    3. East Carolina
    4. Southern Miss
    5. Houston
    6. Tulane
    7. Memphis
    8. UAB
    9. Marshall
    (first place votes in parentheses)

    PLAYER OF THE YEAR
    D.J. Hicks, UCF (Junior, Designated Hitter/Pitcher)

    PITCHER OF THE YEAR
    Austin Kubitza, Rice (Sophomore, Right-hander)

    ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
    P Kevin Brandt Sr. East Carolina
    P Austin Kubitza So. Rice
    P Dillon Napoleon Sr. UAB
    RP Tyler Duffey Jr. Rice
    C Jeremy Schaffer Sr. Tulane
    C Zach Wright Sr. East Carolina
    IF Chase Jensen Jr. Houston
    IF Darnell Sweeney Jr. UCF
    IF Corey Thompson Sr. East Carolina
    IF Jacob Wilson Sr. Memphis
    OF Kameron Brunty Sr. Southern Miss
    OF Jeremy Rathjen Jr. Rice
    OF Michael Ratterree Jr. Rice

    OF Ronnie Richardson Jr. UCF
    DH/UT D.J. Hicks Jr. UCF

    Nation's Top Win Percentage From 1999 To 2011
    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 the nation's top win percentage. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2011: (This list does not include any 2012 results.)
    Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
    Rice, 635-221-0 (.742)
    Florida State, 651-227-1 (.741)
    Oral Roberts, 561-224-0 (.715)
    Texas, 614-247-1 (.713)
    Coastal Carolina, 573-234-0 (.710)
    North Carolina, 589-246-1 (.705)
    Cal State Fullerton, 579-244-0 (.704)
    Arizona State, 531-224-1 (.703)
    South Carolina, 612-261-0 (.701)
    Miami, 565-246-3 (.696)
    Wichita State, 598-276-0 (.684)
    Georgia Tech, 551-255-1 (.683)
    LSU, 558-276-5 (.668)
    Clemson, 566-288-1 (.663)
    Nebraska, 527-268-2 (.662)
    Tulane, 532-275-2 (.659)
    Stanford, 527-274-2 (.658)
    East Carolina, 519-271-0 (.657)
    Notre Dame, 511-271-5 (.652)
    Coll. of Charleston, 487-279-0 (.636)
    Florida, 517-300-2 (.632)
    TCU, 498-290-0 (.632)
    Southern Miss, 503-296-0 (.630)
    Alabama, 508-300-0 (.629)
    Virginia, 498-294-2 (.628)

    Postseason Streak At 17-Straight, Looking For 18
    The Rice baseball program has made 17-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship, which ranks as the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 39 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (34) and Cal State Fullerton (20). Rice's 17-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is tied for the seventh-longest national postseason streak in Division I history (with LSU, 1989-2005).

    Conference Championship Streak At 16-Straight, Looking For 17
    Rice has won or shared a total of 16-straight conference championships (including either regular season or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference, to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and six Conference USA titles in as many years. In 2011 the Blue & Gray tied for the C-USA regular season co-championship (with Southern Miss) before winning the tournament title in late May.

    17-Straight 40-Win Seasons
    Rice has clinched 17th-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 42 wins in 16 of the last 17 years.

    19-Straight 30-Win Seasons
    Rice has reached the 30-win plateau for 19th-straight seasons. Only five other schools in the country have longer active streaks of having won at least 30 games: Arizona State (now 49 years), Miami-Fla. (41 years), Clemson and Cal State Fullerton (both 37 years), and Georgia Tech (29).

    Best Opening Weekend In Reckling Park History
    The recent FIU series proved to be a well-attended weekend despite a two-and-a-half hour rain delay in the opener and the threat of rain all day Saturday. Last year the Stanford series was the best-attended opening weekend in Reckling Park history. Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Many of the previous opening weekends were in a tournament format against three different opponents.)
    Year, 1st Weekend Total (Average)
    1. 2011 - 12,182 (4,060)
    2. 2009 - 10,950 (3,650)
    3. 2004 - 10,117 (3,372)
    4. 2012 - 9,615 (3,205)
    5. 2010 - 9,198 (3,066)

    Welcome Back Rice Baseball Alumni
    Over 100 Rice baseball lettermen, from as far back as the 1940s to the recent College World Series teams, were on hand Feb. 4 at Reckling Park as the Rice Owls baseball program celebrated its rich heritage with its biennial Alumni Weekend... A host of former players, many still playing professionally and some who were in the major leagues in 2011 like Joe Savery and Lance Pendleton, came home to Reckling Park to renew friendships and see old teammates. There may have been a little rani, but it was a fun day for all.
    Check out the video of the Baseball Alumni Fan Fest here

    Winning Is Always In Fashion
    For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 3-0 in its all-white uniforms, 1-0 in the pinstripes and 1-0 in blue tops with white pants.

    On-Deck
    Rice takes to the road next week, but the team doesn't have to leave the city. The Owls play crosstown rival Houston at Cougar Field on Feb. 28 (Tues.). First pitch in the non-conference clash is set for 6:30 pm. Both Rice and UH then head downtown to participate in the annual College Classic held at Minute Maid Park, major league home of the Houston Astros. The Owls are scheduled to play Texas, Texas Tech and Tennessee (March 2-4) in what is annually one of the top regular season college tournaments of the year.

     

     

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