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Owls Open C-USA Action Friday Night At Southern Miss

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March 21, 2013

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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 Open Conference USA Regular Season Action Friday at Southern Miss
After closing-out its recent homestand with seven-straight wins, the Rice baseball team (16-7) 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 then have one more road game on March 26 before returning home to Reckling Park for four-straight games beginning on March 28.

Watch Rice's C-USA Games On OwlVision All Access
Reckling Park home games and C-USA league games are slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches 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 is 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
Baseball America 18 19
College Sports Madness 20 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 1,876 - 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 969-387 with the Owls (584-140 at home, 294-190 in road games and 91-57 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .715, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .715 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this weekend's opponent is as follows: 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.

1,543 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 969 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,543 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,543-500 in a 32-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Probable Rice Pitcher
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitcher for the opening game of the Southern Miss series as junior right-hander Austin Kubitza (3-0, 0.82). The Rice pitchers for the remaining games this weekend will be announced by coach Graham at a later time.
Austin Kubitza was named a second team 2013 preseason All-America selection the National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), and so far that "second team" assessment seems a little low. This year Kubitza is 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 33.0 innings. He has posted sensational outings against No. 1 North Carolina (1 ER, 6.2 IP, 9K in a no-decision), No. 4 Stanford on Opening Day (0 R, 6.0 IP, 12K), FIU on the road (2 ER in 6.1 IP, 11K) and Hawaii on the road (0 R, 7.0 IP, 13K). The Colleyville, Tex., native has held all opposing hitters to a composite .190 batting average this season. Now in the third year of his collegiate career, Kubitza has maintained a 2.24 ERA and he has fanned 228 batters in 213.1 collegiate innings.
Southern Miss announced its starting pitchers to face Rice as the trio of senior Andrew Pierce (4-1, 1.91), sophomore Mason Robbins (0-1, 5.09) and junior Conor Fisk (1-1, 1.12), respectively.

Here's Who's Hot
Senior catcher Geoff Perrott is now 10-for-his-last-14 (.714) with a double, six runs scored, four RBI and an eye-opening .789 on-base percentage in his last six games (in which he has drawn a walk and been hit by a pitch four times)... Freshman Leon Byrd's week is off to great start. Against SFA and UTSA the Rice rookie went 4-for-8 with a home run, a double, two walks and stolen base... The two Owl hitters from College Park High School, Michael Aquino and Keenan Cook, are both in a hitting groove. Recently Aquino is 9-for-20 (.450) with seven RBI, three runs scored, a triple and a double for a .600 slugging percentage, as well as a .538 on-base average... Cook is 8-for-19 (.421) with six RBI, four runs, a triple and two steals over the last five games... Opposing teams have been careful in pitching to senior Michael Ratterree recently and have walked him eight times in the last nine games for a .538 on-base average. The reason for the careful approach is because during that same stretch Ratterree is also a combined 12-for-30 at the plate (.400) with 11 runs scored, six RBI, a home run, a double and two steals... Sophomore shortstop Ford Stainback is now 13-for-his-last-34 (.382) with four doubles, seven runs scored and a stolen base in his last eight games.

Stringer's Steady Defense
Senior second baseman Christian Stringer is batting a steady .301 this season, but the Longview, Tex., native has not made an error in any of his last 137-consecutive chances in the field.

Conference Openers & Conference Series Openers
Rice begins its quest for an 18th-consecutive conference championship on Friday. The Owls are 11-5 in conference openers dating back to 1997. The Blue & Gray have also won 12 of the last 16 three-game series to begin conference play. Rice is looking for a second-straight conference-opening victory, as well as its second-straight win of a league-opening series. A year ago the Owls defeated Memphis in the C-USA opener on the road in Tennessee, 1-0. The Owls went on to claim that weekend series two games to one.

Previous Outing: Rice Tops UTSA Wednesday 11-5
HOUSTON - RiceSenior Geoff Perrott went 4-for-4 in the team's season-high tying 16-hit attack and two big innings paved the way to Rice's 11-5 baseball victory over visiting UTSA Wednesday night at Reckling Park, extending the Owls' win-streak to a season-best seven-straight games... The Owls opened the scoring with a run on Keenan Cook's sacrifice fly to score Christian Stringer in the fourth inning. The Blue & Gray then batted around for a big four-run fifth to extend the lead to 5-0. The big blows were a bases-loaded double to right by Stringer to score two, and a single to left-center by Michael Aquino that drove in two more... Rice starting pitcher Chase McDowell was sound and solid working into the seventh. He allowed six hits and posted three strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work. In the seventh UTSA rallied to four runs to pull within one, 5-4... "Chase gave us a quality start," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "I would have liked to see the bullpen give him a little more support, but it was still a quality start. I have no doubt Chase will help us."... Rice worked out of the jam and then answered with another big inning in its next turn at bat. The Owls batted around again to score five runs on four hits, a walk and hit batsman to make it 10-4. Both squads added single runs in the eighth for an 11-5 final. Rice closed out the contest with 16 total hits to match its season-high from the finale of the FIU series (March 10). Perrott went 4-for-4 while four other Owls had two hits on the night... "I thought we did a good job of hitting, and it was very nice to see how we turned things on late in the game," said coach Graham. "We'd get a runner on second base and drive him, and we did that a couple of times tonight when it seems like we hadn't done it very much at all so far this season. It was good to see. I think we're getting a little more confident at the plate and we're playing good defense."... Rice improved to 16-7 overall with its seventh-straight win. UTSA is now 13-8 on the year.

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 7-3 in its all-white uniforms, 3-2 in all-gray, 3-0 in blue tops with white pants and 3-2 in the pinstripes.

GAMEDAY CENTRAL
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