Owls Return Home To Host FIU

March 23, 2017

E-mail baseball SID John Sullivan
E-mail baseball promotions & game-music director Matt Anderson

Visit These Links
WATCH home games online
LISTEN online (pregame show 15 min. before start)
PROMOTIONS (Get the 2017 team poster this weekend!)
TICKETS
PDF of Rice's pregame release

Mar. 24 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; FIU at Rice
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Mar. 25 (Sat.) 2 pm; FIU at Rice
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Mar. 26 (Sun.) 1 pm; FIU at Rice
Rice Owls Kids Club Day - Owls Kids Club members can receive a free ticket to this game with their membership. Enjoy inflatable, games and more in the Kids Zone. Click here for more information on the Owls Kids Club!
Trading Card Give-Away -- Start your 2017 trading card set on Sunday courtesy of Houston Methodist!
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Rice Returns Home For C-USA Weekend Series; Owls Host FIU In Conference Showdown
After five-straight road games dating back to March 15, the Rice baseball team (6-17 overall and 0-3 in Conference USA) is back home on March 24 to begin a three-game weekend homestand against C-USA foe FIU. Game times against the Panthers (12-9, 1-2) are scheduled for 6:30 pm Friday, 2 pm on Saturday and 1 pm in Sunday's series finale at Reckling Park.

Watch Home Games Online Via OwlVision
The C-USA league games are slated for a live on-line video broadcast this weekend via OwlVision. 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). Games that have been selected for TV broadcasts can alter the online availability.

Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game is scheduled for a live audio broadcast on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the broadcast's pregame show 15 minutes before first pitch. J.P. Heath is in his ninth season as the voice of the Owls.

Live Stats On GameTracker
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every home game are posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, and/or the baseball schedule page.

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceBaseball while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceAthletics. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to get weather-related changes to the schedule/updated start times.

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 26th season at Rice. The 2017 campaign marks his 38th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,120-483 with the Owls (666-179 at home, 351-232 on the road and 101-71 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .699, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .699 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 113 games in a single year... Graham is 15-3 vs. FIU (6-1 home, 8-1 road, 1-1 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2016, making 22-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16. 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, 2014 and 2015, 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 head coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; sixth year), John Pope (Rice, 1990, Jones College; 1st year),  and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; fifth year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

1,695 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,120 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,695 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,695-596 in a 35-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Wayne Graham Radio Show Airs Monday Nights Starting March 27
The new season of The Wayne Graham Radio Show, the live weekly Rice baseball show featuring coach Wayne Graham, will begin next week (March 27) to open its usual Monday night slot at 7 pm through the remainder of the season. The show originates from The Genghis Grill Restaurant between Wesleyan and Edloe on the Southwest Freeway. It airs in the Houston area on SB Nation 1560 AM, and around the world on RiceOwls.com. Coach Graham will review games from the previous weekend and preview upcoming series. In addition to discussions on college baseball's national rankings and chase for the C-USA championship, each week's show will include current members of the team, former Owl players and special guests. Fans will have a chance to interact via Twitter and can now catch the show on their phone by downloading the "Tune In" app. The show is a unique opportunity for baseball fans to get direct insight from one of the college game's most successful icons who was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame and who has more than 1,100 Division I wins.

National Postseason Streak At 22-Straight, Looking For 23 In 2017
Rice baseball's 22-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. Each of the top four streaks of making the NCAA Tournament are all of the active variety. In 2016 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 44th-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (39) and Cal State Fullerton (25).

Here's Who's Hot
Junior Dane Myers extended his hitting streak to five games and is now 7-for-15 (.467) with a home run and a double for a .733 slugging percentage. Myers also has four RBI, four runs scored, three walks and stolen base during his current stretch... Sophomore shortstop Ford Proctor also extended his hitting streak to five games Tuesday night at Texas A&M, where he is now 8-of-19 (.421) with a double, two walks and two stolen bases.

No. 5 RPI Within Conference USA
Rice's 2017 RPI (109) is ranked No. 5 in Conference USA. League foe Southern Miss enters the weekend with the No. 27 RPI in the country. The Owls' final 2016 RPI was No. 24 in the nation.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2017 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
3-2 in all-white
2-3 in gray `birds' tops
1-4 in all pinstripes
0-2 in blue Cuba Tour jersey (with pinstripe pants)
0-3 in blue `Rice' tops (with pinstripe pants)
0-3 in gray `Rice' tops

Last Time Out: No. 23 Texas A&M Defeats Rice Tuesday, 8-5
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No. 23 ranked Texas A&M rallied past the visiting Rice baseball team with six-consecutive runs over the middle innings to claim an 8-5 win over the Owls Tuesday evening in College Station, Texas... Rice found different ways to post single runs on the scoreboard through the first four frames. Ryan Chandler stole home in the top of the first inning. Dane Myers extended his hitting streak to five games to drive-in Chace Sarchet in the third. Dayne Wunderlich came off the bench and drove home Brad Gneiting with a sacrifice fly in the fourth... Texas A&M scored a run on a solo homer in the bottom of the second and then another in the fourth for a 3-2 game. The Aggies vaulted in front with three in the fifth and two more in the seventh to stretch the lead to 7-3... Myers singled and scored to lead off the eighth, but the Aggies countered with a final run to keep the margin at four, 8-4. The Owls battled for a run in the ninth and threatened for more. The Blue & Gray had three hits, for a total of 11 in the game, and brought the tying run to the plate. A&M however worked out of the late jam in the 8-5 final... In a predetermined work-load junior right-hander Glenn Otto made his first start on the mound since his freshman year and was solid. The Spring, Texas, native worked 3.0 innings, allowing just one hit while striking out five. Sophomore shortstop Ford Proctor batted first in the order and finished the night with three hits. Eight different Owls had a hit in the game, but the squad was a combined 3-for-13 with teammates in scoring position.

This & That
Junior Ryan Chandler has started every game in centerfield since the start of his freshman year in 2015, a streak of 144-straight games... Chandler stole home Tuesday at Texas A&M, a feat Dane Myers did last season in the series finale at FIU... Rice has stolen nine of its 11 bases in the team's last nine games... Rookie Matt Canterino has posted double-digit strikeouts in three-straight outings (Pepperdine, Stanford and Old Dominion). The last Owl to do that was Jeff Niemann in 2003 (Wichita State, Houston and Southwest Missouri State)... In the March 9 game vs. Stanford, Rice took seven different at bats with the bases-loaded, the most for the team in a single game since 2006... Rice's seven game losing streak is the program's longest since dropping eight-straight in 1996. That Owl team went on to win the final SWC Tournament Championship (held in Lubbock)... Rice is hitting a combined .308 (28-for-91) in the third inning, but its best inning for scoring runs is the fourth (18 runs).

Otto & Proctor Headline C-USA Honorees; Rice Tabbed As Favorite
IRVING, Texas -- With the top two individual preseason all-conference honors, including Glenn Otto as the 2017 Preseason Pitcher of the Year and Ford Proctor as the 2017 Preseason Player 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 in January. A total of four Owls were honored overall, the most of any league school... Five of the twelve C-USA head coaches voted Rice as the preseason favorite to help the Owls secure the top spot for 2017. Since joining the conference in 2006 Rice baseball has been the league favorite every year there has been a poll (officially 11-of-the-last-12 years as there was no coaches poll conducted in 2010). This season the Owls return seven offensive starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers who helped lead last year's squad to a 38-24 overall record and to a NCAA Regional appearance. A year ago the Blue & Gray was the last team to be eliminated before the NCAA's Super Regional round... Rice's veteran standouts have the full attention of the C-USA head coaches. Under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham, Rice Baseball has won or shared a conference regular season or tournament title 20 times in the last 21 years. The team has been to the NCAA Tournament 22-straight years, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation... In his debut season of Division I baseball, Ford Proctor started 61 of Rice's 62 games at shortstop, earning C-USA Freshman of the Year honors and multiple Freshman All-America honors. He batted a steady .336 for the full season and was electric in the Owls' run to the final game of the C-USA Tournament, hitting two home runs and totaling seven RBI with a .700 slugging percentage. Proctor ranked among the C-USA leaders in batting average (.336) and hits (75). He finished as high as eighth in the league in on-base percentage (.428) and tied for ninth in walks (34). The Beaumont, Texas, native also led the Owls in RBI (41), slugging (.471) and multiple-hit games (19), tallying a career-high three hits in a game on six different occasions, while hitting safely in 18 consecutive games at one point... Otto posted a sensational season with the Owls in 2016, earning first team All-Conference USA honors as a relief pitcher. The junior right-hander tallied eight saves as well as a 9-2 record in 33 appearances out of the bullpen. He maintained a 2.26 ERA in 71.2 innings and held opposing hitters to a composite .209 batting average. The Spring, Texas, native averaged 9.5 strikeouts per 9.0 innings with a 2.5-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, and was named to the watch list for the national Stopper of the Year Award... Proctor and Otto were joined by junior RHP Ricardo Salinas and senior OF Charlie Warren on the preseason All-Conference USA team, giving Rice a league-high four selections. Salinas grew into a role as a weekend starter last spring, particularly the second half of the season, posting a 9-2 overall record with a 3.39 ERA. He tied for the conference lead in wins with teammate Glenn Otto, while finishing third on the team, and tied for sixth in the league in games started (14). The Houston native ranked seventh in C-USA in opponents' batting average (.226), ninth in ERA, tenth in innings (82.1), and eleventh in strikeouts (64). Warren led the team and finished eighth in Conference USA in batting average at .341. He finished second on the Owls in on-base percentage (.408), and reached base in a team-leading 21-consecutive games during one stretch. He drew at least one walk in 19 different games and tied for second on the team in hits (62) despite being sidelined for four weeks of the season.

2017 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS/POLL
(as selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (5)
2. Florida Atlantic (4)
3. Southern Miss (3)
4. Old Dominion
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Charlotte
tie. FIU
8. Marshall
9. UAB
10. Middle Tennessee
tie. UTSA
12. WKU
(first place votes in parentheses)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ford Proctor, Rice (Sophomore, IF)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Glenn Otto, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
P: Kirk McCarty, Jr., Southern Miss
P: Ricardo Salinas, Jr., Rice
P: Casey Sutton, Sr., Louisiana Tech
RP: Glenn Otto, Jr., Rice
C: Brent Diaz, Jr., Louisiana Tech
IF: Taylor Braley, Jr., Southern Miss
IF: Dylan Burdeaux, Sr., Southern Miss
IF: Brett Netzer, Jr., Charlotte
IF: Ford Proctor, So., Rice
IF: Logan Sherer, Sr., Charlotte
OF: Jesse Baker, Sr., UTSA
OF: T.J. Nichting, Sr., Charlotte
OF: Charlie Warren, Sr., Rice
DH/UT: Jonathan Washam, Sr., Louisiana Tech
DH/UT: Sean Labsan, Sr., Florida Atlantic

Owls Ink Nine In Early Signing Period
The Rice baseball program has signed nine high school standouts in the early period who will join the team for the 2018 season. The list of newest Owls includes Dane Acker, Luis Aviles, Justin Collins, Braden Comeaux, Dominic Cox, Trei Cruz, Joshua Larzabal, Parker Osburn and Kelby Weyler. The group consists of two multi-position players who are versatile enough to contribute as both a pitcher and position player/hitter. There are three infielders and three catchers. All are from the high school ranks. Seven are from Texas and five are from the greater Houston area.

Otto Garners A Host of Preseason All-America Honors
With a steady stream of Preseason All-America honors, Owl junior right-hander Glenn Otto will not have much chance to sneak up on opponents. The list of accolades for he and junior right-hander Ricardo Salinas are as follows:
Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball
First Team
RHP       Glenn Otto

National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
Second Team
RHP       Glenn Otto
Third Team
RHP       Ricardo Salinas

D1Baseball.com
Third Team
RHP       Glenn Otto, Rice

National Stopper of the Year Watch List
RHP       Glenn Otto, Rice

Golden Spikes Award Watch List
RHP       Glenn Otto, Rice

New Kid On The Block
Houston area native Darryn Sheppard joined the Rice baseball program in January 2017 as a graduate student of Global Affairs. He played the 2014-2016 seasons at Baylor and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. Sheppard owns one year of collegiate eligibility after playing in more than 140 games with 132 Division I starts. He slugged 14 career home runs with 76 runs scored, 63 RBI and 12 steals in three seasons as an outfielder/first baseman in the Big 12 Conference. His solid 2016 season featured a .294 batting average, a .480 slugging percentage and a team-leading eight home runs in 52 starts. The Sugar Land, Texas, native clubbed two homers in a Big 12 road game at Oklahoma last season and led the Bears with 11 games with two or more RBI. He finished third on the squad with 15 multi-hit games in 2016, and was the only Bear to record five hits in a single game.

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' 2016 fall training was no exception. Newcomer Brad Gneiting turned in sound and solid outings to earn himself playing time this spring. Gneiting was a tough out in Blue-Gray games, batting .302 from the left side and finishing tied for second on the squad in steals... Versatile sophomore Kendal Jefferies meanwhile showed big improvement as a right-handed pitcher, as did sophomore left-hander Evan Kravetz.

Owls Defeat Cuban Professional Team Last Fall
ARTEMISA, Cuba -- On Nov. 25, 2016, the Rice pitching duo of Dane Myers and Addison Moss combined to hold Cuban League foe Artemisa to no runs on just four hits when the Owls claimed a 4-0 overseas victory in its first and only game on its international tour last fall... Myers was sound and solid scattering two singles and two walks with five strikeouts over 6.0 innings against the older and professional Cuban players. The junior from Katy, Texas, retired seven of the first eight batters he faced. When the first Artemisa batter reached on a free pass, the Cazadores' dangerous slugging first-baseman Juan Rodriguez, Myers picked him off first with crafty move that seemed to spark Rice on offensive side in the top of the very next inning... Dayne Wunderlich was hit by a pitch and tried to hustle to third on Myers' one-out single into centerfield. Wunderlich was retired on a strong, veteran throw by Yuan Moreno, but Myers alertly dashed up to second on the play to keep an runner in scoring position. Sophomore Ford Proctor followed with an RBI single into left and los Buhos (the Owls) were on the board 1-0... Rice was back on the offensive when senior Charlie Warren led off the fifth with a hit to left center and a steal of second base. He went to third on a Wunderlich single and scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead... After the traditional Cuban sixth-inning stretch, the Owls added a little more insurance in the seventh. Proctor stroked a two-out double to left and with first base open Artemisa elected to intentionally walk Dominic DiCaprio. Ryan Chandler singled-home Proctor, and a wild throw from the outfield allowed DiCaprio to come home and stretch the margin to 4-0... That was now proving to be more than enough room. True freshman Addison Moss started the game at first base and switched positions in the field with Myers after the sixth. The right-hander from Conroe, Texas, kept the shutout intact and earned a save with 3.0 innings of two-hit relief where he allowed two singles and without any walks and a strikeout... "The experience of coming here has already been so beneficial, the game today was just icing on the cake," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham, who was making his return to Cuba since his minor league playing season at AAA Buffalo in 1960. "We've just been treated so well I know the players will remember this trip and this particular game very fondly. After the big (pregame) ceremony they had and all, we were maybe a little nervous at the very start," Graham explained. "When we just relaxed and started playing, we played really well. We finished with 11 hits and Dane was sensational like we know he can be."... Proctor and Wunderlich paced the Owls with three-hits each, and Myers had two hits in addition to his win on the mound... The Owls were originally scheduled to play five exhibition games on its educational and cultural tour of the previously `closed' island nation last November, but the death of longtime lead Fidel Castro (when the team was in Havana) forced a cancellation of the four remaining games. The Owl players, however, continued to make the rest of its itinerary destinations at various landmarks and museums.

1996 - 2015; Rice's 20-Straight Conference Titles
Rice saw it's streak of winning 20-straight conference titles come to an end in 2016. The Owls had won or shared a total of 20-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covered membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and now ten C-USA titles from 2006-2015. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 21 years:


 

 

YearConferenceRegular SeasonConf. Tourney
2016C-USA4th2nd
2015C-USA1sttied 7th
2014C-USA1st1st
2013C-USAtied 1st1st
2012C-USAtied 1sttied 5th
2011C-USA1st1st
2010C-USA1st2nd
2009C-USA2nd1st
2008C-USA1sttied 7th
2007C-USA1st1st
2006C-USA1st1st
2005WAC1stno tourney
2004WAC1stno tourney
2003WAC1stno tourney
2002WAC1stno tourney
2001WAC1stno tourney
2000WACtied 1stno tourney
1999WAC1st1st
1998WAC1st South Div.1st
1997WAC1st South Div.1st
1996SWCtied 6th1st


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 18 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999-2016 (note: this listing will not be updated to include games played in 2017):

SchoolWLTPct
Florida St.8763211.732
Rice8373260.720
South Carolina8263550.699
North Carolina7973461.697
LSU8073546.694
Miami (Fla.)7823443.694
Cal State Fullerton7753470.691
Costal Carolina7693490.688
Oral Roberts7333440.681
Arizona St.7083352.678
Texas7723731.674
Georgia Tech7463771.664
Virginia7223773.657
Clemson7534121.646
TCU7163930.646
Nebraska7033872.645
Florida7374072.644
East Carolina6973924.640
Florida Atlantic6903892.639
Louisville7044002.638
Texas A&M7184083.637
Oregon St.6593751.637
Tulane6993982.637
Oklahoma St.6943970.636
Stanford6903952.636
Col. of Charleston6763872.636
Kent State6753870.636
DBU (11 years)4092360.634
Vanderbilt7014140.629
Ohio St.6663992.625
UL-Lafayette6894161.623
Southern Miss6774101.623
IMG College