March 16, 2012
PDF of Rice's latest pregame release
VIEW a Rice Baseball Preseason video
VISIT the Rice Baseball Ticket Page
GREAT Promotions this season at Reckling Park
LISTEN to all Rice games via the Internet audio home page
Mar. 17 (Sat.) 2 pm; Grambling State at Rice
Special Promotion: St. Patrick's Day! We'll allow green at Reckling Park for St. Patty's Day. Look for green beer specials and green giveaways!
Watch it on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)
Mar. 18 (Sun.) 1 pm; Grambling State at Rice
Watch it on the web
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.
GameTracker (activates at game time)
All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.
Owls Continue Homestand Saturday vs. Grambling State
The No. 5 ranked Rice baseball team, 14-5 overall on the season, continues its current homestand at Reckling Park on March 17. The Owls host Grambling State in a two-game weekend set on Sat.-Sun. Start times against the Tigers (10-6) are set for 2 pm and 1 pm, respectively.
Watch Rice Home 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. 5
Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of a host of different polls to start the 2012 campaign. The team made some progress in the polls after the perfect 8-0 start to the season and is now No. 5 this week. Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:
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 1,833 - 1,475- 9.
Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and soon-to-be 2012 College Baseball 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 926-366 with the Owls (560-128 at home, 276-186 in road games and 90-52 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .717, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .717 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. Grambling State is 0-0... 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.
1,500 Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 926 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,500 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,500-478 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.
Wayne Graham To Be Inducted Into College Baseball Hall of Fame
HOUSTON - Only a few hours before the nationally-ranked Rice baseball team was to take the field against the University of Texas in Friday's final game of the College Classic Tournament (March 2), Owl head coach Wayne Graham was announced as one of seven inductees into College Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer... Coach Graham is part of an impressive class of inductees who will officially join the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Tex., on June 29-30. The 2012 inductees include Lou Brock, a Major League Hall of Famer who was a collegiate star at Southern University in 1958-60; Ed Cheff, who won 16 NAIA national championships coaching at Lewis Clark State from 1977-2010; Nomar Garciaparra, a three-time All-America selection at Georgia Tech who went on to make six all-star games during a 14-year major league career; Tim Jorgensen, a two-time Division III National Player of the Year and All-American at Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Brad Wilkerson, a three-time All-America selection and 1998 National Player of the Year from the University of Florida; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached at Arizona for 23 seasons where he led the Wildcats to the College World Series ten times... The Owls' head coach is already a member of three other Halls of Fame. Currently in his 21st year at the helm of the Rice program, and his 32nd as a collegiate head coach, Graham has already been inducted into the Junior College Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Col. (1995), the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in Fort Worth (2003) and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco (2005)... At Rice, Graham has led the Blue & Gray to an NCAA Regional for each of the last 17 years. Not only has the baseball program won at least 40 games in each of the last 17 seasons, Rice has won or shared 16-consecutive conference championships (including regular season and/or conference tournament titles). Rice has maintained the nation's best composite Division I baseball win-percentage (.742) since 1999, a comprehensive 13-year span that marks the first year the NCAA adopted its current 64-team/Super Regional format for the NCAA Tournament... "It's a unique event and I appreciate the honor very much," said coach Graham. "At a time like this you think about who helped get you there. The players who have performed well to allow you to have some success, but also my wife and family who have had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it possible for this to happen. I'm very grateful for everyone who has been involved... "It's a great honor to be associated with the other members of this Hall of Fame class," coach Graham added. "They are great baseball-people with a love and talent for the game."... Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said Graham's induction is well-deserved... "Wayne Graham's accomplishments throughout his career are obviously worthy of a place in the College Baseball Hall of Fame," Greenspan said. "His accomplishments at San Jacinto were legendary on their own merits and in his 21 seasons at Rice, he has created an exemplary program that has been dominant on the field and in the classroom." A National Board Member of the College Baseball Foundation, Greenspan noted that Graham's legacy continues to grow. "The 2012 Rice Owls are again among the best teams in the nation, adding yet another chapter to an amazing career."... Graham has long-been an example of coaching excellence, but he's far from finished.
Probable Rice Pitchers Last season veteran Matthew Reckling started more games (16) than any other member of the Owls' pitching staff. Not only did he lead 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 was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 2011 June draft, but returned to Rice for his senior season. The Owls are glad he did because he has been lights-out in 2012. This season Reckling did not allow any runs through his first 15.1 innings of work. He's now struck out 30 in 28.0 innings and held opposing batters to a composite .140 average. Reckling's next start would be his 25th as an Owl. His all-time Rice record in 52 career appearances is 9-4, and he now has 173 career strikeouts for the Blue & Gray.
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitching rotation for the Grambling State series as the right-handed duo of senior Matthew Reckling (2-0, 1.29) and sophomore Austin Kubitza (1-1, 7.27) and, respectively.
There was 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 2011 Houston College Classic. 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 five appearances this season Kubitza is 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA. He's struck out 18 batters in 17.1 innings of work.
Previous Outing: Arizona Halts Ninth-Inning Rice Rally For 8-5 Win Over Owls
HOUSTON. - The Rice baseball team rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and was still looking for more with the bases-loaded and the potential winning run at the plate, but Arizona worked out of the jam to preserve an 8-5 win over the Owls Wednesday night at Reckling Park... Trailing 8-3 heading into their last at bat, the Owls fought back for two runs and sent a total of eight men to the plate. A leadoff walk to Shane Hoelscher, a single by Craig Manuel and a walk to pinch-hitter Keenan Cook loaded the bases with two away. Junior second baseman Christian Stringer delivered a clutch double to right field to score two for an 8-5 game. Michael Ratterree followed with a walk to load the bases again, but this time Arizona reliever Matthew Troupe halted the Owl threat with a game-ending strikeout.
After a 5-1 Rice win on Tuesday night (Mar. 13) in the opening game of the brief midweek series, the two Top 10 foes split the set 1-1. The Owls are now 14-5 overall wile Arizona improved to 14-3 on the season. Rice head coach Wayne Graham tipped his hat to a talented Arizona squad, stayed focused on the positives (particularly the effort of his freshman starting pitcher Zech Lemond) and kept the expectations bar set high for his own team... "Arizona fought hard tonight and had offensive tenacity," coach Graham said. "For us to be what we want to be, we're going to have to have that same offensive tenacity. We're going to have to be tenacious with the bat... "I thought Zech did a great job," the Owls' head coach added. "He could have gotten out of there with no damage. We made an error where we gave them one (run), but I thought he pitched well. I couldn't ask for much more."... In just his fifth Rice appearance and first career start, Lemond worked a career-long 5.0 innings. He surrendered two runs in the fourth inning, but only one was earned after an Owl fielding error prolonged the Wildcats' at bat. The rookie right-hander from Waltrip High School scattered four hits and faced one batter in the sixth before being lifted... Rice struck for three runs in the bottom of the third inning to give Lemond an early lead. The big blow was triple to right-center by Michael Fuda that drove-in two... Arizona chipped away for the two in the fourth and one in the sixth with the help of a Rice wild pitch that tied the game, 3-3. The Wildcats tallied two more runs in the eighth and another three in the ninth off the Owl bullpen. Arizona had the five-run lead to start the bottom of the ninth and finally held off the Owls' late charge with the tying run at the plate.
Did You Know?
Rice's 14-5 start to the season is the program's best since an identical ledger in 2009. That 2009 Owl squad began the year 14-5 on the way to a 43-18 season that included the C-USA Tournament Championship and NCAA Regional title.
Rice's 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 were 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
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.
Austin 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
(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)
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).
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 6-2 in its all-white uniforms, 4-0 in the pinstripes, 1-0 in blue tops with white pants, 3-1 in all-gray and 0-2 in blue tops with gray pants.
The Owls are happy to be at home at Reckling Park. After hosting Grambling Rice welcomes in-state rivals Texas-San Antonio and Lamar on Mar. 20-21, respectively.