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Owls Begin Five-Game Road Stretch Tuesday Night at Texas

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April 7, 2014

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Apr. 8 (Fri.) 7 pm; Rice at Texas
Game televised by The Longhorn Network (no OwlVision this game)
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Apr. 11 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Rice at Tulane
Watch the game on the web
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Apr. 12 (Sat.) 2 pm; Rice at Tulane ;
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Apr. 13 (Sun.) 1 pm; Rice at Tulane;
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All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

Owls Begin Five-Game Road Stretch Tuesday Night vs. Texas Longhorns
The Rice baseball team, 22-12 overall and ranked as high as No. 21 in the nation by Baseball America, begins a rugged stretch of the schedule that features five-straight road games. The Owls play a 7 pm game at longtime rival Texas on Tuesday, April 8, in Austin. The Longhorns (26-7 overall) are ranked No. 7 in the nation. Rice then travels to New Orleans for a C-USA showdown with Tulane on April 11-13. The Blue & Gray close out the taxing road-stretch on April 15 at longtime foe Lamar. The Owls have only eight more home games the rest of the season.

It's T.V. Time Again Tuesday
Tuesday's contest will be televised live on The Longhorn Network.

Watch C-USA Games On OwlVision All Access
Most Conference USA league 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 at RiceOwls.com.

Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending home games can listen to the Rice broadcast at Reckling Park via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM. J.P. Heath is back for his sixth season as the regular voice of the Owls. For some selected home games, "R" Association Director Jimmy Comerota will be joining in on the Rice broadcast and providing commentary from a former player's perspective.

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

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceOwlsBSB while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceOwlsdotcom.

98th Season On The Baseball Diamond
Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2014 season is, however, only the Owls' 98th 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 1,926 - 1,521 - 9.

National Rankings Update • Rice Ranked No. 20
Rice is nationally-ranked in a host of different college baseball polls. The Owls are No. 20 in the nation by USA Today/ESPN. Here's a closer look at some of the latest national rankings, and changes from the previous week:

Poll This Week Last Week
USA Today 20 14
Baseball America 21 12
NCBWA 21 14
PerfectGame.com 22 13
College Sports Madness 25 17
Collegiate Baseball Magazine 30 18

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 23rd season at Rice. The 2014 campaign marks his 34th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,019-412 with the Owls (611-150 at home, 315-202 on the road games and 93-59 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .712, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .712 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 115 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this week's opponents is as follows: 23-36 vs. Texas; 26-7 vs. Tulane; Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2013, making 19-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. 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 and now 2013 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11 and `13... 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; ninth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; third year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; second year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

The `Grand' Coach's 1,000th Rice Win
Wayne Graham posted his 1,000th Division I win in the team's 2014 home-opener against Texas State on Feb. 18. With no shortage of drama, the Owls rallied for that 4-3 victory in the bottom of the 11th inning. Graham entered the 2014 season ranked No. 15 on the NCAA's career wins list for active coaches.

1,593 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,019 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,593 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,593-525 in a 33-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Caleb Smith To Start Tuesday; Remaining Starters TBA
Wayne Graham announced sophomore right-hander Caleb Smith (1-1, 6.94) would start Tuesday at Texas. Coach Graham will officially announce the rest of the week's remaining rotation at a later time. Smith is a transfer from Cisco College in his first season with the program. The Austin, Texas, native made his Rice debut out of the bullpen in the opening weekend of the season at Stanford. He went on to pitch 2.0 shutout innings of hitless relief at home against Purdue (Feb. 23) before his first Rice start against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Mar. 12). He started the March 18 midweek game at Texas State and was sensational. In a game where the Owl offense garnered all the attention in a comfortable 14-1 victory, Smith allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out an eye-opening 12 batters in 6.0 innings of work. His most-recent appearance was a March 25 start across town at the University of Houston. For the full season he's fanned 17 batters in 11.2 innings and held all hitters to a composite .217 batting average.

Previous Outing • East Carolina Rallies Past Rice In Ninth Inning Sunday, 2-1              
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball team was a single strike away from winning the game and a Conference USA weekend series, but visiting East Carolina rallied for two ninth-inning runs to claim a 2-1 victory over the Owls Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park. The game had an early 10:30 am start to avoid rain in the area, but the Owls were soon in-gear with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Michael Aquino led off with a double to left and scores on a one-out RBI triple by Keenan Cook. Neither team could escape rain that delayed the contest for more than an hour in the fifth inning. Play resumed and Rice held the narrow 1-0 advantage until the ninth. The Owls retired the first two batters of the inning, but Ian Townsend doubled to right field. ECU pinch hitter Bryce Harman battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk and Dylan Brown followed with a game-tying RBI double to right. Eric Tyler followed with a two-out single to plate the go-head run and the Pirates were now in front 2-1. The Blue & Gray attempted a rally of its own in the bottom of the ninth. John Clay Reeves was hit by a pitch to give Rice a needed base-runner, but ECU turned a sharp double-play on a hard grounder down the right field line to preserve the 2-1 final. Rice finished with six hits, led by Cook and Skyler Ewing with two each. The Owls are now 22-12 overall and 10-5 in C-USA action. Rice allowed only five runs in the 27 innings of the three-game weekend set. ECU claimed the series two games to one.

Here's Who's Hot
Senior right fielder Keenan Cook enters the week on a 7-for-12 pace (.583). He also has three RBI, stolen a base, scored a run and drawn a walk for a .615 on-base average. Senior third baseman Shane Hoelscher extended his hitting streak to six games where he is 10-for-23 with three doubles, five runs, four RBI and three walks for a .500 on-base percentage. Junior first baseman Skyler Ewing went a combined 4-for-9 (.444) in the final two games of the East Carolina series.

Zech Lemond Garners National Preseason Honors
Junior right-handed pitcher Zech Lemond (pronounced "Zack Leh-mawn") has been named a preseason All-America by both Collegiate Baseball magazine (a second team pick) and the NCBWA (third team selection). The Golden Spikes Award, which is presented to the top amateur player in the country, has named him to its official preseason watch list. The Houston native is 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 47.0 innings. He's held opposing hitters to a composite .196 batting average.

Take A Closer Look
Rice has 12 losses, but a closer look is in order. Five losses were to teams that were nationally-ranked when the Owls faced them. Another one of the losses was to a streaking Sam Houston State team that went on to enter Baseball America's national rankings that same week. Five losses were by a single run, and one of those was in extra innings. The final margin in seven of Rice's 12 losses has been two runs or less. Consider that the Owls have had a number of the team stars, including Jordan Stephens, Shane Hoelscher, Leon Byrd and John Clay Reeves, all sidelined at various points of the season.

Single Game Tickets For Texas and Texas A&M Are Now on Sale
Individual game tickets for the Rice baseball team's upcoming home game against longtime rival Texas A&M (April 22) is now on sale through the Athletics Tickets Office, including the on-line ticket page at RiceOwls.com. College baseball fans should not delay in purchasing tickets. Texas A&M is visiting Reckling Park for the first time since the 2011 season. Ticket prices start at $16 for adults and $10 for youths. Rice has just eight games remaining on the regular season home schedule. The Blue & Gray also host UAB, Houston Baptist and Louisiana Tech in the upcoming weeks. For more information please visit the Rice Ticket Office in Tudor Fieldhouse or call at 713-522-OWLS (6957).

Conference Titles Streak Reaches 18-Straight
Rice has won or shared a total of 18-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and eight C-USA titles in as many years. The Owls shared the 2013 regular season title with co-champion Southern Miss, then won the C-USA Tournament by defeating that same Golden Eagle squad in the title game. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 18 years:
Year    Conf.    Regular Season    Conf. Tourney
2013    C-USA    tied 1st    1st
2012    C-USA    1st    tied 5th
2011    C-USA    tied 1st    1st
2010    C-USA    1st    2nd
2009    C-USA    2nd    1st
2008    C-USA    1st    tied 7th
2007    C-USA    1st    1st
2006    C-USA    1st    1st
2005    WAC    1st    no tourney
2004    WAC    1st    no tourney
2003    WAC    1st    no tourney
2002    WAC    1st    no tourney
2001    WAC    1st    no tourney
2000    WAC    tied 1st    no tourney
1999    WAC    1st    1st
1998    WAC    1st South Div.    1st
1997    WAC    1st South Div.    1st
1996    SWC    tied 6th    1st

Solid In C-USA Regular Season
Since its first Conference USA baseball campaign in the spring of 2006, Rice's regular-season record in C-USA league games is 158-51 (.756).

New-Look Conference USA
Seven new baseball-playing members (Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and UTSA) joined Conference USA for the 2014 season. Those seven members join returning schools East Carolina, Marshall, Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB and Rice to create a 13 team baseball league that will play a 30-game conference schedule this season. Here's how the incoming members did a year ago:
Team    From...    Record    League
Florida Atlantic    Sun Belt     42-22    19-11
UTSA    WAC    35-25    15-11
Charlotte    Atlantic 10    37-23    17-7
Florida International    Sun Belt    26-32    13-17
Old Dominion    Colonial    30-24    15-12
Louisiana Tech    WAC    19-37    6-21
Middle Tennessee    Sun Belt    28-28    11-19

Florida Atlantic and UTSA each won their conference championships and participated in NCAA Regionals. FAU advanced to the Chapel Hill Regional final before losing to No. 1 national seed North Carolina in extra innings.

Postseason Streak At 19-Straight, Now Looking For 20
Rice baseball's 19-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest active streak. In 2013 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 41st-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (36) and Cal State Fullerton (22). Rice's 19-straight NCAA Tournament bids is the sixth-longest postseason streak in Division I baseball history.

19-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice enters the 2014 campaign with 19-straight seasons of posting at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 41 wins in 18 of the last 19 years.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice is 6-4 in its all-white uniforms, 3-1 in all-gray, 3-2 in blue tops with white pants, 1-1 in blue tops with gray pants, 8-2 in its new home alternate, and now 1-2 in the new road alternate. Acting on a suggestion Owl great Lance Berkman made to his former head coach Wayne Graham, Rice baseball announced a new addition to its uniform lineup for the 2014 season. Inspired by the iconic St. Louis Cardinals' jersey, the new alternate top features two owls perched atop a bat. With Adidas as the official uniform supplier for Rice Athletics, coach Graham took Berkman's suggestion and introduced something new. "We wanted to stay with our traditional look," said coach Graham, "but also be innovative and pay homage to a classic, beautiful look like that of the Cardinals. (The alternates) are simply an addition and a chance to showcase the owl mascot."

The 2014 Conference USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With four preseason all-conference players, including Zech Lemond as the 2014 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... The addition of seven new teams to the conference this season, and the departure of three from a year ago, has certainly changed the C-USA landscape. Coaches' respect for the Rice baseball program, however, has held steady. Twelve of the 13
C-USA head coaches voted Rice as the preseason favorite for 2014. No matter what teams have comprised the league membership since Rice joined in 2006, C-USA coaches have picked the Owls as the preseason favorite every year there has been a poll (officially eight-of-the-last-nine years as there was no coaches poll conducted in 2010). Rice's veteran standouts, including Lemond (Jr., RHP), and fellow C-USA preseason honorees Michael Aquino (Sr. OF), Shane Hoelscher (Sr., INF) and Jordan Stephens (Jr., RHP), have the full attention of the C-USA head coaches. The Owls also have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring.

2014 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS (selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (12)
2. Florida Atlantic
3. East Carolina
4. Southern Miss
5. Tulane (1)
6. FIU
7. UTSA
8. Charlotte
9. Middle Tennessee
10. Old Dominion
11. UAB
12. Marshall
13. Louisiana Tech
(first place votes in parentheses)

CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Drew Reynolds, East Carolina (Senior, DH/RHP)
Aramis Garcia, FIU (Junior, Catcher)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Zech Lemond, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)

PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
P Austin Gomber    Jr.    Florida Atlantic
P Jeff Hoffman    Jr.    East Carolina
P Jordan Stephens    Jr.    Rice
RP Zech Lemond    Jr.    Rice
C Aramis Garcia    Jr.    FIU
IF Brad Elwood    Jr.    Charlotte
IF Shane Hoelscher    Sr.    Rice
IF R.J. Perucki    Sr.    UTSA
IF Edwin Rios    So.    FIU
OF Michael Aquino    Sr.    Rice
OF Josh Eldridge    Jr.    Old Dominion
OF Ryan Stephens    Sr.    Middle Tennessee
OF Mason Robbins    Jr.    Southern Miss
DH/UT Drew Reynolds    Sr.    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 15 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2013 (does NOT include 2014 games):
Team    Years    Wins    Loses    Ties    PCT
Florida State    15    748    261    1    .741
Rice    15    720    260    0    .735
North Carolina    15    694    274    1    .717
Cal State Fullerton    15    666    275    0    .708
South Carolina    15    704    294    0    .705
Coastal Carolina    15    651    277    0    .702
Texas    15    671    293    1    .696
Arizona State    15    604    265    2    .695
Oral Roberts    15    624    281    0    .690
Miami (Fla.)    15    638    294    3    .684
LSU    15    662    305    5    .684
Georgia Tech    15    639    302    1    .679
Wichita State    15    672    329    0    .671
Stanford    15    600    314    2    .656
Clemson    15    641    338    1    .655
Southern    15    464    246    0    .654
Virginia    15    587    315    3    .650
Tulane    15    600    323    2    .650
Nebraska    15    591    321    2    .648
East Carolina    15    586    321    3    .646
Florida Atlantic    15    581    326    1    .640
Notre Dame    15    574    322    5    .640
Dallas Baptist    15    566    319    1    .639
Kent State    15    564    328    0    .632
College of Charleston    15    556    327    1    .630
Florida    15    593    350    2    .629
Ohio State    15    557    331    1    .627
Oklahoma State    15    565    337    0    .626
Oregon State    15    540    324    0    .625
TCU    15    568    342    0    .624
Texas A&M    15    583    352    3    .623
Southern Miss    15    565    347    0    .620
Mississippi    15    573    355    1    .617
Arkansas    15    572    355    1    .617


 

 

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