Owls Host Stanford Friday To Begin Four-Game Weekend Series

Feb. 26, 2015

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Feb. 27 (Fri.) 6 pm; Stanford at Rice
STAR WARS NIGHT! - All Jedi Masters and Darth Vaders are invited to join us at our 1st annual Star Wars Night! Dress up as your favorite character and you miht win special prizes.
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Feb. 28 (Sat.) Noon; Stanford at Rice
METHODIST HOSPITAL DAY - Join us for Methodist Hospital day at Reckling Park. The first 1,200 fans in attendance will receive a Rice water bottle courtesy of our "left field neighbors" at Methodist Hospital.
Receive a great deal on both baseball and basketball tickets. Get our 2 for $20 deal and see both the baseball team and basketball team in action for one low price. Click here to get your 2 for $20 Deal now!
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Feb. 28 (Sat.) 4 pm; Stanford at Rice
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Mar. 1 (Sun.) 1 pm; Stanford at Rice
METHODIST TRADING CARD #2 - The first 750 fans will receive strip No. 2-of-5 of the 2015 Rice Baseball Trading Cards, courtesy of Methodist!
Receive a great deal on both baseball and basketball tickets. Get our 2 for $20 deal and see both the baseball team and basketball team in action for one low price. Click here to get your 2 for $20 Deal now!
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The Rice baseball team, 6-3 overall and ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation, hosts Pac-12 power Stanford in a four-game weekend series Friday through Sunday (Feb. 27-March 1). The start times vs. Stanford follow the same sequence as the four-game series vs. Texas two weeks ago: 6 pm on Friday, noon and then 4 pm on Saturday, followed by a 1 pm start in the series finale on Sunday.

Separate Tickets Need For Each Game Saturday!
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 other game day benefits are also available by supporting Rice student-athletes with a gift to the Owl Club.

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 1,952 - 1,531 - 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.

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 began with the season-opener vs. Texas. It was 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 Friday night opener vs. Stanford is scheduled to be the next 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.

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. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM. J.P. Heath is back for his seventh season as the regular voice of the Owls. Fellow Rice broadcasters like Alex Del Barrio are also scheduled to do selected games over the course of the season.

Watch The Games On OwlVision All Access
Home 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.

National Rankings Update • Owls Move Into Top 10
Rice is nationally-ranked in a host of different college baseball polls. The Owls are now in the Top 10 of three different polls. Here's a closer look at some of the latest national rankings, and changes from last week (as available at press time):
Poll                      Current     Previous
D1Baseball.com              10           12
CollegeBaseballDaily.com    10           13
College Sports Madness      10           13
NCBWA                       11           14
Collegiate Baseball         12           13
Baseball America            14           15
PerfectGame.com             20           20

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 (RPI), 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 1,045-423 with the Owls (623-156 at home, 325-206 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. this weekend's opponent is: 8-10 vs Stanford... 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.

1,619 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,045 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,619 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,619-535 in a 33-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham announced Rice's probable starting pitchers for the Stanford series as junior right-hander Kevin McCanna (1-0, 2.45) on Friday night, followed by junior left-hander Blake Fox (1-0, 5.25) in Saturday's first game of the split twin bill. Coach Graham will announce the remaining Rice starters at another time.
Kevin McCanna is a veteran with 35 appearances in his collegiate career, including 19 starting assignments. In two starts this year facing the Friday night pitchers from Texas and Arizona, McCanna owns a 2.45 ERA in 11.0 innings of work. He has held opposing batters to a composite .184 average with a strikeout per inning, and maintained a 2.2-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio... 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 host of news organizations have a preseason All-America team leading up to the 2015 campaign, and Blake Fox was on just about every one of them. In two starts this year Fox is 1-0 and averaging 6.0 innings per outing... The Owls' junior left-hander is undefeated in his Rice career, posting a perfect 19-0 record in a total of 37 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).

Previous Outing: Owls Get Offensive vs. SFA Wedneday, 13-1
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team erupted for 13 unanswered runs on 13 hits midway through the game on the way to 13-1 home victory over longtime foe Stephen F. Austin Wednesday night at Reckling Park in Houston... The Owls continued a current streak of double-digit hits for each of the team's nine games this season. For the first 4.1 innings of the game, however, Rice was battling a determined SFA squad to get just one... SFA starter Jarred Green had a no-hitter for the first 4.1 innings of the contest, as well as a 1-0 lead on a solo home run by Garrett McMullen to lead off the top of the second. The Owls rallied for three runs on three hits in the bottom of the fifth and proceeded to stretch the margin to 13-1 over the next three frames... "Baseball can be like that," Rice head coach Wayne Graham explained. "They were playing well and we weren't doing much. We finally got a hit and some runners (in the bottom of the fifth) and made it back to the top of the lineup to get something going."... In the fifth Hunter Kopycinski lined a one-out single up the middle, and Grayson Lewis reached when the Lumberjacks had trouble with a tricky fly ball into the sun. With two men on and now at the top of the order, freshman Ryan Chandler laced a double just inside the right field line to tie the game 1-1. Lewis scored on a ground out and Leon Byrd followed with an RBI single to left for a new 3-1 game... The Blue & Gray exploded for six runs on four hits in the sixth, a run in the seventh and three more in the bottom of the eighth on the way to the 13-1 final. Eight of the nine starters in the lineup finished with at least on hit. Chandler paced the 13-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with a double, a walk, four RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base... Almost lost in the offensive fireworks was a solid night for the Rice pitching staff. Five Owls combined to allow SFA one run on six hits while striking out 14 and walking just one batter. John Williamson earned his first career win working a career-long 3.0 innings in relief. The Houston native punctuated his three perfect frames with five strikeouts. Relievers Glenn Otto and Austin Solecitto both struck out the side in their only respective inning on the mound... "Our pitching did well, and John did very well," coach Graham said. "He stabilized everything when he came in (to start the top of the fourth). We knew he was capable of having a game like tonight. He didn't pitch last weekend (at Arizona) because we had him playing in the outfield - and he had six hits in that series."... Rice improved to 6-3 with a second-straight win. SFA is now 2-7 overall.

Reeves Named C-USA Hitter of the Week
IRVING, Tex. - Rice's John Clay Reeves has been named the Conference USA Baseball Hitter of the Week for Feb. 16-22, the league office announced Monday (Feb. 23) from its headquarters in Irving, Texas... Reeves hit safely in all four games last week, with multiple hits in all three Owls victories, including a key road series win for the league at Pac-12 foe Arizona. The senior catcher/DH went 10-for-18 (.556) at the plate to help the Owls go 3-1 last week. He finished the week with six RBI and two runs scored. Reeves drew a walk for a .579 on-base average, and he had a home run and a double for a .778 slugging percentage. On Feb. 17 against crosstown foe Houston Baptist, he blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 deadlock and lift Rice to an eventual 5-2 win. In the series finale at Arizona, Reeves tied his career-high with five hits and finished the day with three RBI. It is the third time in Reeves' collegiate career to be named the C-USA Hitter of the Week...The C-USA Pitcher of the Week honor went to Louisiana Tech junior left-hander Tyler Clancy. Clancy threw seven nearly perfect innings with only one hit allowed and five strikeouts in the Bulldogs home-opening victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff for his first collegiate win on the mound.

Big Opening Series
Rice baseball has a long-history of testing itself with some tough, but very popular, early-season non-conference series - like the opening weekend vs. Texas. The average attendance of that four-game series (4,297) crushed the previous best opening weekend attendance average in Reckling Park history from 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 where the Owls played against three different opponents on consecutive days.)
    Year    1st Weekend    Average
    2015       *17,191      4,297
    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

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).

This & That
Rice has reached double-digit hits for each of the first nine games to start the season. The team is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in hits per game (12.8)... The Owls enter the weekend hitting .343 as a team, and out-hitting opponents by more than 100 percentage points (.235). The Blue & Gray collected a season-high 16 hits in Sunday's series finale at Arizona, and also tallied a season-best six doubles in the contest... In the Friday series-opener at Arizona (Feb. 20), Rice hit two triples in a game for the first time since the season-opener at Stanford one year ago (Feb. 14, 2014)... The 13 runs and 13 RBI Rice posted against Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday night were both season-highs, but there was one more season-high that came in under the radar. The Owls also were more patient at the plate and finished with a season-best eight walks... The Rice pitchers have maintained a composite 2.72 ERA in 82.2 innings... The hurlers average 9.12 strikeouts per game with a 2.9-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio... Freshman RHP Ricardo Salinas was back in the weekend rotation on Sunday at Arizona, where he pitched 5.2 frames to take over the early staff lead in innings (13.0). The rookie from Houston's Northshore High School has held opposing hitters to a .229 average... Redshirt junior RHP Jordan Stephens made his second appearance of the season Sunday at Arizona... Freshman transfer Josh Pettitte also made his collegiate debut Sunday against the Wildcats... As a staff the Owl pitchers have faced a bases-loaded situation ten times in eight games this season, but only once has an opposing hitter managed to hit safely. Rice hitters meanwhile are a combined 6-for-13 (.462) when batting with the bases-juiced... Somebody throw some water on senior OF/DH Kirby Taylor, who is now a combined 17-for-34 (.500) at the plate with eight runs scored and six RBI in six starts. The former Bellaire High School star also has four doubles for a .618 slugging percentage... True freshman Ryan Chandler made a splash in his first two weeks of Division I baseball. The rookie centerfielder has batted leadoff every game, where he has hit .378 (14-for-37) with a team-leading 11 runs scored, five doubles and two stolen bases... Keep an eye on senior shortstop Leon Byrd, who is 5-for-12 with three RBI, three walks, two doubles and a sacrifice bunt over the last three games.

Hitting Streaks Carrying Over
Because the NCAA recognizes hitting streaks carried-over from one college season to the next, senior Kirby Taylor officially has an 13-game hitting streak.

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.

Facing An Opponent Four Times
Rice and Texas played a four-game series, but 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.

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

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2015 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
0-1 in all-white,
4-0 in the home alternate-1 (`birds'),
0-1 in the home alternate-2 (`Old English R'),
0-1 in all-gray,
1-0 in blue tops with pinstripe pants,
1-0 in the road alternate (`birds-gray').

The 2015 Conference USA Favorites
IRVING, Texas - With three preseason all-conference players, including the Owl battery 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)
2. FIU
3. Old Dominion
4. Southern Miss
5. UTSA
6. Florida Atlantic
7. UAB
8. Middle Tennessee
9. WKU
10. Marshall
11. Charlotte
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
Blake Fox Jr. Rice
P  Alex Luna Sr. UAB
P  Chris Mourelle So. FIU
RP  Matt Ditman Jr. Rice
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.

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

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.

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