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Owls Host SFA Tuesday and UTSA Wednesday

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 Stephen F. Austin at No. 18 Rice
Date March 19th | 6:30 PM CST
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 UTSA at No. 18 Rice
Date March 20th | 6:00 PM CST
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March 18, 2013

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The Last Meeting
Stephen F. Austin0
Rice6
May 8, 2012
Reckling Park
Baseball Team Blanks Stephen F. Austin 6-0 Tuesday Night
The Rice baseball team combined seven shutout innings on the mound from junior starting pitcher Andrew Benak with some steady offensive pressure for a 6-0 victory over visiting Stephen F. Austin Tuesday evening at Reckling Park in Houston.


Mar. 19 (Tues.) 6:30 pm; SFA at Rice
Give Away Items: free koozies for the first 500 fans, courtesy of Champion Energy Services
Concession Special: $2 Tuesday's - enjoy 2 hot dogs for only $2!
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Mar. 20 (Wed.) 6 pm; UTSA at Rice
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Mar. 22 (Fri.) 6 pm; Rice at Southern Miss
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Mar. 23 (Sat.) 2 pm; Rice at Southern Miss
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Mar. 24 (Sun.) 1 pm; Rice at Southern Miss
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All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

Owls Continue Homestand With In-State Rivals Tuesday & Wednesday
The Rice baseball team, 14-7 overall and ranked No. 18 in the country, continues the current homestand with midweek games on March 19-20. The Owls host Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday followed by UTSA on Wednesday. The start time for both contests is 6:30 pm at Reckling Park.

Conference USA Regular Season Begins Friday at Southern Miss
After closing-out the current seven-game homestand, Rice opens Conference USA regular season action with a three-game weekend series at Southern Miss on March 22-24 (Fri.-Sun.). Game times against the Golden Eagles are set for 6 pm, 2 pm and 1 pm, respectively, at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss... The Owls have one more road game on March 26 before returning home to Reckling Park for four-straight games beginning on March 28.

Watch Reckling Park Games On OwlVision All Access
Reckling Park 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). 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 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 will be 99.7 FM. Proximity broadcasts for away games will be announced prior to that game. J.P. Heath returns as the voice of the Owls this season. For some selected home games he will be joined in the Rice broadcast booth by either 2003 national champion letterman Enrique Cruz or Jimmy Baseball, aka letterman and "R" Association Director 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 • Three In The Top 20
The Owls are represented in a host of different polls across the country. Here's a closer look at the latest national rankings:

Poll This Week Last Week
College Sports Madness --- 19
Baseball America 18 19
PerfectGame.com 20 20
NCBWA 24 27
USA Today/ESPN rv nr
Collegiate Baseball Magazine nr nr

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 1,874 - 1,496- 9.

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 967-387 with the Owls (582-140 at home, 294-190 in road games and 91-57 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .714, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .714 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 week's opponents is as follows: 5-1 vs. Stephen F. Austin (4-0 home, 1-1 road); 10-1 vs. UTSA (10-0 home, 0-1 road); 16-9 vs. Southern Miss (9-4 home, 7-3 road, 0-2 neutral)... 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.

1,541 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 967 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,541 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,541-500 in a 32-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Probable Rice Pitcher
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitcher for the Stephen F. Austin game as junior right-hander John Simms (4-1, 1.32). The Rice pitchers for the remaining games this week will be announced by coach Graham at a later time.
A start for John Simms would be his fifth of the season. If you are only as good as your previous appearance, Simms is up in the stratosphere with the first complete game of his collegiate career that featured a career-high 12 strikeouts in the March 12 midweek start against Louisiana Tech. Simms started and won in the opening series of the season against Stanford, as well as the series finale at Hawaii (Feb. 25). He started against Baylor downtown at Minute Maid Park (March 3) and suffered only the third loss of his collegiate career in 53 Rice appearances dating back to 2011. He has completed at least 6.0 innings in each of his four starts this season. In relief outing on March 8 against FIU The Woodlands. Tex., native fired 2.2 scoreless frames and struck out four to earn his first save of 2013. A former prep star at College Park High School, Simms has averaged 9.0 strikeouts per 9.0 innings in six total appearances. He has held all opposing hitters to a composite .186 batting average. Since joining Rice in 2011, Simms has compiled a 13-3 career record with a 2.59 ERA in 159.2 total innings. He has amassed 156 strikeouts as an Owl, the second-highest total for active players.

Here's Who's Hot
You read in this space last time to "keep an eye on true freshman Connor Teykl", and that still holds. The rookie third baseman was named the C-USA Hitter of the Week on March 18 after batting a combined .526 to help the Owls go a perfect 5-0 in its games last week. Teykl went 10-for-19 at the plate with a team-best seven RBI. The standout from The Woodlands, Tex., also had a double, a run scored, a walk and a sacrifice fly. He had a career-best 4-for-4 day in the March 12 (Tues.) win over Louisiana Tech. Teykl has been coming into his own the last two weeks after taking over at third base when veteran Shane Hoelscher was injured at the College Classic at Minute Maid Park. The rookie now has the team lead in batting average (.360) and the Owls have gone 8-3 with him starting at the hot corner. On the defensive side Teykl started four of the Owls' five double plays last week... Senior catcher Geoff Perrott is now 5-for-his-last-9 (.556) with a double, three RBI and three runs scored and an eye-opening .714 on-base percentage in his last four games... Not only did the College Park High School duo of Michael Aquino and Keenan Cook both go an identical 5-for-12 (.417) at the plate in the weekend series against Harvard, both had a triple, a stolen base and the same RBI total (4) in the weekend sweep of the Crimson... Opposing teams have been careful in pitching to senior Michael Ratterree recently and have walked him eight times in the last seven games. The reason for the careful approach is because during that same stretch Ratterree is also a combined 9-for-22 at the plate (.409) with a home run and double for a .591 slugging percentage... Sophomore shortstop Ford Stainback is now 10-for-his-last-26 (.385) with two doubles, six runs scored and a stolen base in his last six games.

Stringer's Steady Defense
Senior second baseman Christian Stringer is batting a steady .320 this season, but the Longview, Tex., native has not made an error in any of his last 128-consecutive chances in the field.

Previous Outing: Rice Completes Weekend Sweep of Harvard with 12-0 Win Sunday
HOUSTON - Rice freshman pitcher Kevin McCanna allowed just one hit over a career-long 7.0 innings and the offense was in high-gear as the Rice baseball team coasted to a 12-0 St. Patrick's Day victory over visiting Harvard Sunday at Reckling Park to complete a three-game sweep of the Crimson in the weekend series... In just his second collegiate start McCanna posted the longest outing of his Rice career, a sterling 7.0 innings where he allowed just one hit and a pair of walks. After the top of the first inning where Harvard put two men on base via a walk and Rice fielding error, McCanna found a groove to keep the Crimson in check for the next six frames. The Woodlands, Tex., native retired 15-fo-16 in a row during one stretch and he in fact faced only three Harvard batters in each of the innings from the second through the seventh. After the Crimson's lone base hit in the second, and a leadoff walk to start the fourth, McCanna got identical 5-4-3 round-the-horn double plays to erase the runners and end both innings. Relievers Connor Mason and Evan Rutter pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to keep the game as a one-hit shutout... "Kevin did a good job," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "We knew he was a talent when we recruited him. Kevin threw the curve ball hard today, and I think that was the most significant thing that was different from some of his other outings. We wanted to see a legitimate curve ball today, and we did. He was still throwing well in the seventh, but at that point we knew we wanted some others to get some work."... The Owl offense meanwhile was battling just as hard in building an early 6-0 lead after the first two innings. In the first, Rice took advantage of a two-out Harvard fielding error that opened the door for three runs. With runners on first and third Keenan Cook singled-home the first score. Michael Aquino laced a triple down the line and into the left field corner to add two more. Michael Ratterree led off the second with a single, Geoff Perrott was hit by a pitch and Leon Byrd walked to load the bases with no outs. Ford Stainback followed with a base hit to left to drive in the first two. Byrd later trotted home on Connor Teykl's sacrifice fly... Rice batted around for five more runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth to stretch the margin to 11-0. The big blow was a bases-loaded triple to right by Cook to close out a 2-for-4 day with a career-high-tying four RBI. By the time the Blue & Gray added the final run in the bottom of the seventh to close out the day's scoring at 12-0, a total of nine Rice players had registered a base hit and five different Owls all scored two runs in the game... With an eye on the bigger picture coach Graham not only likes to see hits, but hitting in key situations. Today the Owls loaded the bases four times and delivered hits on three of those occasions. Rice was also a combined 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position and leadoff batter got on base in four of the eight offensive innings... "We hit the ball just fine," coach Graham said. "It's good to see Keenan have a good day and a lot of others played pretty well. There are times where we have built an early lead and then didn't do anything after that. Today we kept hitting, which need to be able to do... "I'm pretty happy with the performance overall, hitting and pitching," the head coach added. "It's nice to have a game finally that wasn't too tense."... Rice improved to 14-7 overall with its fifth-straight win. Harvard is now 1-9 on the season.

Rice 13th In Average Home Attendance
Through eleven home games Rice has averaged more than 3,300 fans to Reckling Park. The Owls are 13th in the nation in average home attendance. Here are the latest national attendance leaders (by home average).
1. LSU 10,686
2. Arkansas 7,764
3. Ole Miss 7,331
4. South Carolina 6,998
5. Mississippi State 6,827
6. Texas 5,773
7. Clemson 4,843
8. Texas A&M 4,510
9. Florida State 4,336
10. TCU 3,600
11. Florida 3,537
12. Hawaii 3,386
13. Rice 3,332

Rice Also 18th In Total Home Attendance
Rice baseball drew more than 36,500 fans for eleven home games. That's also the 18th highest total in the country.

Last Granny
FYI the last Owl to hit a grand slam before Hunter Kopycinski's inside-the-park shot on March 13 was Craig Manuel last sesaon. Manuel blasted his four-RBI round-tripper at home on April 21 in the 6-2 win over East Carolina.

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.

Now Six More TV Games Later This Season
HOUSTON - Four additional Rice baseball home games have been picked up for a television broadcast by Fox College Sports, the Rice Athletics Department announced, bringing remaining season total TV games to six... Fox College Sports (FCN), a leader in televising some of the nation's top collegiate events, added Rice baseball games vs. UCF, Texas Tech, Memphis and Marshall to its spring broadcast slate. All are Owl home games at Reckling Park, a venue that hosted no less than eight nationally-televised games last season. There will be no significant changes to the start time for any of the four games on FCN... Rice baseball has already a number of its games on TV this season. All three games from the Astros Foundation Classic at Minute Maid Park were televised taped-delayed. In February three of the Owls' games played at Hawaii were televised lived throughout the 50th state. There are also two other upcoming Rice games against Conference USA foes Tulane and Houston that are scheduled for a live TV broadcast by Fox Sports Net. Rice's six up-coming TV games are as follows:
March 28 (Thur.) Tulane at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox Sports Net
April 12 (Fri.) UCF at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
April 16 (Tue.) Texas Tech at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
April 20 (Sat.) Rice at Houston, 12:30 pm - Fox Sports Net
May 10 (Fri.) Memphis at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports
May 16 (Thur.) Marshall at Rice, 6:30 pm - Fox College Sports

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
4. UCF
5. Tulane (1)
6. Memphis
7. Houston
8. UAB
9. Marshall
(first place votes in parentheses)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Christian Stringer, Rice (Senior, Infielder)

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

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
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

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).

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 6-3 in its all-white uniforms, 3-2 in all-gray, 3-0 in blue tops with white pants and 2-2 in the pinstripes.

 

 

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