The Rice baseball team, 35-20 overall and the 2015 Conference USA regular season champion, is back in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st-straight year with a chance to play for another national championship. The Owls travel across town to UH's Cougar Field as the opening round of regional play begins at 16 sites across the country, the NCAA announced on Monday (May 25).
Rice is the No. 2 seed of the regional and scheduled to meet the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (39-21) at 2:30 pm on Friday, May 29, in a double-elimination tournament format. The regional's No. 1 seed, Houston (42-18) and No. 4 seed, Houston Baptist (28-25) complete the four-team field. A full listing of the regional's game times will be available soon.
The 16 Regional winners advance to play in one of eight best-of-three Super Regionals getting under way the following week (June 5-8). The Houston Regional is paired with the LSU Regional where the Tigers are the No. 2 national seed. The 69th Baseball College World Series begins play the week after that (June 13) in Omaha, Nebraska.
Rice baseball's 21-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest active streak. In 2015 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 43rd-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (38) and Cal State Fullerton (24). Rice's 21-straight NCAA Tournament bids is also now tied for the fourth-longest postseason streak in Division I baseball history (after Clemson saw its 21-year regional streak snapped in 2008).
Under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham Rice baseball has 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 covers 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 in as many years. The Owls won the 2015 C-USA regular season title by a comfortable 2.5-game margin.