Owls Host Elite Field In NCAA Home Regional

May 30, 2012

  • PDF of Rice's latest pregame release
  • LINK to the Rice Regional Home page
  • VISIT the Rice Regional Ticket page
  • LISTEN to all Rice games via the Internet audio home page
  • PRINT an NCAA Tournament Bracket (pdf)

    June 1 (Fri.) 1 pm; Sam Houston State vs. Arkansas
    GameTracker (activates at game time)

    June 1 (Fri.) 6 pm; Prairie View A&M at Rice
    GameTracker (activates at game time)

    June 2 (Sat.) Games 1 pm & 6 pm
    Two games (teams tba); Elimination game at 1 pm. Winner's bracket game at 6 pm;

    June 3 (Sun.) Games 1 pm & 6 pm
    Two games (teams tba); Elimination game at 1 pm. Possible championship game at 6 pm; (If the two remaining teams both have one loss after Sunday's late game, there will be a one-game Regional Championship on Monday at 6 pm.)

    All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

    Owls Host Elite Field In NCAA Home Regional
    The No. 7 ranked Rice baseball team, 40-17 overall and the Conference USA regular season champion, is back in the NCAA Tournament this week as regional play begins at 16 sites across the country in a double-elimination format. The Owls are hosting the opening round of Regionals at home at Reckling Park... Rice is scheduled to meet the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Prairie View A&M Panthers (28-23) at 6 pm in first round action on Friday, June 1. The Regional's No. 2 seed, Arkansas (39-19) and No. 3 seed, Sam Houston State (38-20) complete the four-team field. The Razorbacks and Bearkats are scheduled to open the Regional at 1 pm that same day... The game times for Saturday and Sunday (June 2-3) are also 1 pm and 6 pm, with the early game serving as an elimination game. If the Regional champion has not been determined after Sunday night's game, there will be one extra game played on Monday (June 4) at 6 pm if necessary.

    The 16 Regional winners advance to play in one of eight best-of-three Super Regionals getting under way the following week (June 8-11). The 66th Men's College World Series begins play the week after that, June 15, in Omaha, Nebraska.

    Watch The Houston Regional Games On OwlVision All Access
    Every game of the Houston Regional is 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 link.

    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 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 this week will be 99.7 FM.



    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.

    Postseason Streak Now 18-Straight
    The Rice baseball program's 18th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Baseball Championship is the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 40th-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (35) and Cal State Fullerton (21). Rice's 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is now the sixth-longest national postseason streak in Division I history (passing LSU, 1989-2005).

    Conference Championship Streak At 17-Straight
    Rice has now 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. With no shortage of drama 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 42 wins in 16 of the 18 seasons (with a chance to make it 17-of-18).

    National Ranking Update • Five Top 10s; As High As No. 7
    Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of a host of different polls to start the 2012 campaign. Now in NCAA Regional action the Owls are holding as a consensus Top 10 team and as high as seventh according to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:

    Poll This Week Last Week
    NCBWA 7 4
    Baseball America 8 4
    USA Today/ESPN 9 7
    Collegiate Baseball Magazine 9 9
    PerfectGame.com -- 4

    Rice University Centennial; 96th Season On The Baseball Field
    Rice University is celebrating its centennial in 2012. 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 2012 season is, however, only the Owls' 96th 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 1,859 - 1,487- 9.

    Head Coach Wayne Graham
    Four-time national coach of the year and soon-to-be 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 21st season at Rice. The 2012 campaign marks his 32nd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 952-378 with the Owls (573-135 at home, 288-189 in road games and 91-54 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .716, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .716 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's records vs. this week's opponents are: 7-0 vs. Prairie View (7-0 home), 32-14 vs. Sam Houston State (20-7 home, 12-7 away), and 0-0 vs. Arkansas... 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 `12... 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 Mike Taylor (Prairie View A&M, 1997; 12th year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; seventh year), and Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; first year)... On game days Hallmark coaches at third base while Van Hook coaches at first base.

    1,526 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
    Wayne Graham owns 952 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,526 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,526-491 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.

    Wayne Graham To Be Inducted Into College Baseball Hall of Fame
    HOUSTON - Only a few hours before the nationally-ranked Rice baseball team was to take the field against the University of Texas in Friday's final game of the College Classic Tournament (March 2), Owl head coach Wayne Graham was announced as one of seven inductees into College Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer... Coach Graham is part of an impressive class of inductees who will officially join the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Tex., on June 29-30. The 2012 inductees include Lou Brock, a Major League Hall of Famer who was a collegiate star at Southern University in 1958-60; Ed Cheff, who won 16 NAIA national championships coaching at Lewis Clark State from 1977-2010; Nomar Garciaparra, a three-time All-America selection at Georgia Tech who went on to make six all-star games during a 14-year major league career; Tim Jorgensen, a two-time Division III National Player of the Year and All-American at Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Brad Wilkerson, a three-time All-America selection and 1998 National Player of the Year from the University of Florida; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached at Arizona for 23 seasons where he led the Wildcats to the College World Series ten times... The Owls' head coach is already a member of three other Halls of Fame. Currently in his 21st year at the helm of the Rice program, and his 32nd as a collegiate head coach, Graham has already been inducted into the Junior College Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Col. (1995), the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in Fort Worth (2003) and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco (2005)... At Rice, Graham has led the Blue & Gray to an NCAA Regional for each of the last 17 years. Not only has the baseball program won at least 40 games in each of the last 17 seasons, Rice has won or shared 16-consecutive conference championships (including regular season and/or conference tournament titles). Rice has maintained the nation's best composite Division I baseball win-percentage (.742) since 1999, a comprehensive 13-year span that marks the first year the NCAA adopted its current 64-team/Super Regional format for the NCAA Tournament... "It's a unique event and I appreciate the honor very much," said coach Graham. "At a time like this you think about who helped get you there. The players who have performed well to allow you to have some success, but also my wife and family who have had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it possible for this to happen. I'm very grateful for everyone who has been involved... "It's a great honor to be associated with the other members of this Hall of Fame class," coach Graham added. "They are great baseball-people with a love and talent for the game."... Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said Graham's induction is well-deserved... "Wayne Graham's accomplishments throughout his career are obviously worthy of a place in the College Baseball Hall of Fame," Greenspan said. "His accomplishments at San Jacinto were legendary on their own merits and in his 21 seasons at Rice, he has created an exemplary program that has been dominant on the field and in the classroom." A National Board Member of the College Baseball Foundation, Greenspan noted that Graham's legacy continues to grow. "The 2012 Rice Owls are again among the best teams in the nation, adding yet another chapter to an amazing career."... Graham has long-been an example of coaching excellence, but he's far from finished.

    Probable Rice Pitchers
    Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitcher for the opening game of the NCAA Tournament as undefeated sophomore right-hander John Simms (5-0, 2.72).

  • A start for John Simms would be his fourth of the season and also his fourth in the last five weekends. Simms was inserted into a starting role on May 6 against Houston after a series of quality relief outings. He worked 5.2 frames in that first start against UH, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out four. Overall Simms is now 5-0 with a 2.72 ERA and has held all opposing hitters to a composite .223 batting average. The Woodlands, Tex., native owns 52 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. Simms has been steady in his C-USA outings and he was sensational with season-long 6.0 innings of three-hit relief on the road against No. 2 ranked Texas A&M (Apr. 17)... The right-hander is not new to the starter's role. A year ago the standout from College Park HS was in fact the first Owl freshman to start on the mound on Opening Day since eventual first round major league draft pick Joe Savery earned the honor in 2005. Among a host of steady freshman starts was his 7.0 innings against Houston on May 8 where he allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four on the way to his third win of the season... Simms earned high school All-America honors at College Park and he was selected in the 2010 Major League draft by the Washington Nationals. He declined the pro offer and went on to pitch for the United States 18 & Under National Team over the summer of 2010. He enrolled at Rice in August and proved to be one of the top pitchers during the fall practices.
  • Prairie View announced its probable starting pitcher as senior left-hander Derrick Mitchell (6-4, 3.09). The ace of the Panthers' staff, Mitchell was the winning pitcher in the championship game of last week's SWAC Tournament (5.1 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 SO, 3 BB). The native of Berkeley, Calif., leads Prairie View in starts (14), wins (6), innings (87.1) and strikeouts (56). Mitchell holds all opposing hitters to a .253 average and allows just 3.3 walks per 9.0 innings of work.
    The remaining Rice pitchers will be announced by coach Graham at a later time. Here is a closer look at some of the Owls' regular starting pitchers from the 2012 season listed in alphabetical order.
  • Andrew Benak has put together a sound and solid season and he has been fantastic in more than a few of his 16 outings. On May 15 (Tues.), Benak fired a career-long 7.1 innings in a 5-0 road victory over Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Tex. He scattered five singles with no walks while striking out nine. By the eighth inning only two Bearkat runners reached scoring position off the junior right-hander. The week before that at home against Stephen F. Austin (May 8), he fired a shutout over 7.0 frames to earn his sixth win of the season. He scattered seven hits with one walk while striking out eight. In a C-USA road win at Marshall (April 15), the Houston native fired 6.1 shutout innings for his fifth win. He allowed four hits with no walks while striking out nine, holding 25 Marshall batters to a composite .190 batting average. On Feb. 22 vs. New Mexico State, his first start of 2012 and only the fifth start of his collegiate career at the time, Benak dominated the NMSU hitters with 10 strikeouts in 5.1 innings for a win. The 6-foot-5 right-hander scattered just two singles and did not walk a batter. He struck out every batter in the lineup at least once and had one stretch of striking out 9-of-14. A week later against crosstown rival Houston (Feb. 28) he allowed an earned run on three hits over 5.0 innings while striking out four. On March 6 against Texas State he struck out 10 in 6.0 innings while allowing just one run on four hits and two walks. Against nationally-ranked Arizona (Mar. 13), Benak kept the explosive Wildcats off the scoreboard for 5.2 frames (where he picked up his third win of the season). He averages 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and has maintained a 4.0-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio... Benak is a redshirt junior who has been sidelined for most of the past four years. It's been a long time in coming but now that he's finally healthy for the first time since a standout prep career at Langham Creek H.S., Benak has quickly made up for lost time. His outings in the 2011 fall training program were the first indication that a healthy Benak could prove to be a different pitcher than the one Rice (and opponents) had seen before. The lesson in Benak's comeback story is that Rice baseball (the coaches and his teammates) never gave up on Andrew Benak, and perhaps of equal importance is that Andrew Benak never gave up on Andrew Benak.
  • There was a steady stream of preseason honors for Austin Kubitza, a third team 2012 preseason All-America selection by both Collegiate Baseball magazine and the College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). In 15 appearances this season, including 14 times as the starting pitcher, Kubitza is 6-3 with a 2.96 ERA. He's struck out 65 batters in 73.0 innings of work. The Colleyville, Tex., native has held all opposing hitters to a composite .221 batting average. So far in 2012 Kubitza has faced a rugged slate of opponents that includes six teams coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, including Stanford, UCF, Texas, East Carolina, Florida International and Dallas Baptist. In his last nine starts the right-hander has maintained a 1.40 ERA, held hitters to a .200 average and struck out 45 batters in 51.1 innings.
  • A year ago veteran Matthew Reckling was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 2011 June draft, but the 6-foot-4 right-hander returned to Rice for his senior season. The Owls are glad he did because he has been lights-out in 2012, including selection as the C-USA Pitcher of the Year honors. This year Reckling is 8-2 with a 2.90 ERA. He has struck out 97 in 83.2 innings and held opposing hitters to an austere .181 batting average. Reckling averages 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and earlier this year he fanned a career-high 13 in a single game. The former Kinkaid star has already been named the C-USA Pitcher of the Week three times, including a brilliant complete game one-hit shutout effort against East Carolina (April 20). Reckling's next start would be his 35th as an Owl. His all-time Rice record in 63 career appearances is 15-6, and he is the career strikeouts leader among active players with 240.

    Rice In The NCAA Tourney
    Rice has played 113 total games in the NCAA Tournament since 1995, including Regionals, Super Regionals and the College World Series. All of Rice's previous NCAA Tournament games have been under the direction of Head Coach Wayne Graham. His (and the program's) record in the "The Dance" is 73-40 (.646).

    We Know Who's Dancin'
    If you need any authoritative insight on the 2012 NCAA baseball bracket just ask Rice. The Owls have played 22 games against nine different teams in this year's NCAA Tournament. The Blue & Gray was 15-7 against the elite teams in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.

    Here's Who's Hot
    Not only is J.T. Chargois a fireball-throwing pitcher, he has provided a key offensive presence at the plate the last few weeks. In his last four games Chargois is 8-for-14 (.571) with four doubles for an .857 slugging percentage. The Sulphur, La., native also has three RBI, three runs scored, a walk and a sacrifice for a .600 on-base percentage... Junior catcher Geoff Perrott may not always be the starting backstop, but in his last four starts he is 3-for-6 (.500) with a double and two walks for a .625 on-base average. Perrott has also driven-in a run and scored twice in his last four starts... Keep an eye on sophomore DH/OF Keenan Cook. Cook has come off the bench 11 times in the team's last 16 games where he has gone 7-for-15 (.467) with two doubles for a .600 slugging percentage. He also has scored six runs, stole two bases and maintained a .529 on-base average in his last 11 games.

    Did You Know?
    The Owls are 35-1 when leading after the seventh inning. Credit some solid late-inning work by the Rice bullpen, including relievers Tyler Duffey, John Simms, Taylor Wall and J.T. Chargois, as a few of the key contributors to the team's success.

    Best In Three Years
    Rice is 40-17 overall, the team's best record through 57 games since a 41-16 ledger in 2009. That 2009 Owl squad went on to reach the NCAA Super Regionals.

    Take a Closer Look
    Rice has its best won-lost record in three years, but maybe a closer look at some of the losses is in order. Seven of the 17 losses were against elite teams that have advanced to NCAA Regionals. Eight of the Owls' 17 losses have been by a single run and three were by two-runs. Also note that two of the team's losses have been in extra innings.

    Rice 15th In Average Home Attendance
    Through its 30 home games Rice has averaged more than 3,400 fans to Reckling Park. The Owls are 15th in the nation in average home attendance. Here are the national attendance leaders (by home average) heading into Regionals.
    1. LSU 10,636
    2. Arkansas 7,924
    3. South Carolina 7,511
    4. Ole Miss 7,471
    5. Texas 6,337
    6. Mississippi State 6,131
    7. Florida State 4,657
    8. Clemson 4,405
    9. Texas A&M 3,358
    10. Creighton 4,268
    11. TCU 4,112
    12. Florida 3,893
    13. Nebraska 3,760
    14. Alabama 3,458
    15. Rice 3,444

    Rice Also 16th In Total Home Attendance
    Rice baseball drew more than 103,300 fans for 30 home games. That's also the 16th highest total in the country as of the start of Regional action.

    This & That
    In the last 30 games junior right-hander Tyler Duffey has pitched 28.0 innings in 21 total appearances and not surrendered an earned run. The former Bellaire High School star has allowed one run (unearned), but held all hitters to a composite .117 batting average on the way to a win and four saves... As a staff the Owls have the 13th-best WHIP in the nation (1.19)... Junior second baseman Christian Stringer has managed to reach base in each of the last 43-straight games. Stringer's streak is the program's best since eventual major league draft pick Jared Gayhart reached base 53-straight times in 2008... Speaking of that season, the last Rice team to enter the NCAA Tournament with two-straight losses was also in 2008. That squad turned it around in NCAA play and went on to reach the College World Series... Senior Michael Fuda has moved into sole possession of fourth place on Rice's all-time list for games played (221) and at bats (811). The Katy, Tex., native is seventh on the Owls' career hits list (257) and needs just four more to tie Joe Savery for sixth. Fuda's 11 career triples is tied for ninth with Lance Berkman and Will Ford (11)... Rice enters the NCAA Regional looking to pick up the pace in situational hitting. The Owls are 1-for-their-last-6 when batting with the bases-loaded. The last player to get a bases-loaded hit was Jeremy Rathjen's fifth-inning double in the opener against UCF... Earlier this season Rice split two games with Sam Houston State, with each team winning at the other's home park. The Owls last played Prairie View at home in the 2007 NCAA Regional. The last time Rice faced Arkansas was at home at Cameron Field in March of 1991.

    Solid In C-USA Action
    Since its first Conference USA baseball campaign in the spring of 2006, Rice's regular-season record in C-USA league games is now 133-38 (.778).

    The K Train
    The Rice pitching staff leads the nation with a total of 517 strikeouts in 516.2 innings. Right now the season total is not enough to crack into the school's all-time Top 10 list for strikeouts, but the K's-to-innings ratio is the program's highest in four years. Owl pitchers have struck out 10 or more in a single game 27 times. The Blue & Gray punched-out a season high 15 on two occasions, most-recently in the second game at UCF (May 18).

    Walk This Way - Part 1
    As a team Rice leads Conference USA and is 12th in the nation by drawing 269 walks in 57 games (4.7 per game). Four players on the team have more than 30 walks this season. Earlier this year the Owls drew a season-high 12 walks in a single game at Memphis (Mar. 24).

    Walk This Way - Part 2
    The baseball team has a keen eye at the plate (see above), but there's more than one way to "walk" on a college campus. Rice Baseball and the Athletics Department would like to acknowledge some special seniors who made a walk of a different kind on May 12 before the UAB game. Five seniors in the baseball program, Daniel Gonzales-Luna, Ryan Lewis, Craig Manuel, Jeremy Rathjen and Matthew Reckling participated in the University's graduation ceremony that morning before two C-USA games got underway that afternoon. The 2012 commencement ceremony was the 99th in school history.

    Winning Is Always In Fashion
    For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 18-5 in its all-white uniforms, 6-4 in the pinstripes, 2-1 in blue tops with white pants, 11-4 in all-gray and 3-3 in blue tops with gray pants.

    Previous Outing: Rice Falls To Southern Miss Saturday At C-USA Tournament
    PEARL, Miss. - Southern Miss scored a pair of late runs for a 4-2 win over the Owls in the final game of round-robin pool play May 26 at the Conference USA Championship in Pearl, Miss... As the team had done two nights before in the Memphis game, the Owls quickly opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. J.T. Chargois hit a two-out double to the right field corner. Jeremy Rathjen followed with a single up the middle for a 1-0 margin... Southern Miss took the lead in the bottom of the fifth after the Owls retired the first two batters of the inning. Rice was looking to get out of the frame with two away, but two hit batters, a wild pitch and a single by Michael Sterling and double by Mason Robins lifted USM to a 2-1 advantage... The Owls came right back and tied the game in the top of the sixth. Christian Stringer beat-out an infield single and stole second base to move into scoring position. Chargois punched a base-hit through the left side to drive Stringer home and knot it up at 2-2... The Blue & Gray stranded a runner in the top of the seventh. Southern Miss took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Three hits and a pair of walks pushed across a pair of runs for a 4-2 USM lead. The Eagles held-off Rice over the final two frames for a 4-2 final. The Owls finished with four hits on the night... "I thought we had a very disappointing offensive effort," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "Southern Miss showed a great effort." Rice dropped to 40-17 on the season and went 1-2 in the tournament. Southern Miss improved to 32-24 overall... "No matter what happens we'll have to play better in an NCAA Regional," coach Graham said. There isn't any question about that, but we're not finished yet."

    Owls Headline 2012 C-USA Awards
    Rice head coach Wayne Graham was named the C-USA Keith LeClair Coach of the Year while senior Matthew Reckling was selected as the league's Pitcher of the Year, to headline a list of 2012 Owl baseball award winners announced by the C-USA office... A total of six Owl players were recognized for their success on the diamond. All the award winners, including Graham and Reckling with two of the top honors the league can bestow, were selected on a vote of the conference's head coaches, sports information directors and a media representative who cover each program... J.T. Chargois (DH/Util.), Jeremy Rathjen (Of.) and Christian Stringer (Inf.) joined Reckling (P) on the C-USA first team, Ford Stainback and Jordan Stephens were named to the league's all-freshman squad... In 2012 Graham has guided the Owls to a 40-17 overall record, the C-USA regular season championship with a 17-7 league mark, and to a No. 9 national ranking. Graham was named the Keith LeClair Coach of the Year for the fifth time in seven seasons that Rice has been a C-USA member. The award that is named for the former East Carolina skipper who courageously battled ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) before his passing in 2006... Reckling is a Houston native who emerged as the ace of the Owls' talented staff. He tied for the league lead in victories with eight, averages 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and has held all hitters to a composite .181 batting average that is the lowest in the league. He was named C-USA Pitcher of the Week three times, more than any other player this season. Reckling is the first Owl to be named the C-USA Pitcher of the Year since Ryne Tacker in 2007... J.T. Chargois was named a first team honoree after making key contributions as both a right-handed pitcher and switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter. In addition to earning a team-leading eight saves with a 4-1 record and 2.27 ERA, the Sulphur, La., native also batted .333 at the plate. The versatile junior maintained a .422 on-base percentage, drove in 25 runs and scored 25 times... Jeremy Rathjen was named to the C-USA first team after making a dramatic comeback from a season-ending injury in 2011. The redshirt junior has started every game this season where he leads the Owls in home runs (9) and doubles (13), and he is second in hitting (.333) and RBI (41)... Junior transfer Christian Stringer made the move to Division I baseball this season with aplomb. The Longview, Tex., native leads the team and is among the C-USA's best in hitting (.348). In addition to sensational defense at second base, Stringer has scored a total of 57 runs in Rice's 57 games played... Stainback and Stephens are a pair of Owl true freshmen who have made an immediate impact in their first season playing at the college level. Stephens has made 14 appearances on the mound where he is 2-3 with a 4.38 ERA. He's worked his way into eight starts in his first Division I season, including shutout wins at Stanford and against Tennessee. Stainback stormed through the C-USA slate with a .368 average in league games. The shortstop from Dallas has made 33 starts for Rice in his debut season... Regular season champion Rice had the most first team All-Conference selections with four. Southern Miss led the way with four selections to the All-Freshman team, which included at least one player from eight schools.

    Rathjen Named To National Academic All-District Team
    Junior right fielder Jeremy Rathjen has been named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District VII First Team, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced. CoSIDA's annual all-academic teams recognize the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. Not only is Rathjen batting .333 this season with a team-leading nine home runs and 41 RBI, he has maintained a 3.52 grade point average as an Economics major in Rice's accelerated curriculum. As a first team all-district honoree, Rathjen now has a chance to be named to the Capital One Academic All-America.

    Rathjen & Reckling Named To C-USA All-Academic Team
    IRVING, Tex. - Rice's Matthew Reckling and Jeremy Rathjen have been named to the 2012 Conference USA All-Academic Baseball Team... The C-USA all-academic team consists of student-athletes with a 3.2 cumulative grade point average or better and are a starter or key reserve for their team. The members were voted upon by the league's sports information directors. Rathjen is a Houston native from Memorial High School who maintained a 3.52 grade point average in Economics. Reckling is also a Houston native who held a 3.45 GPA in Sports Management.

    Seven For The Show
    Seven former Rice players began this season on major league rosters. The 2012 list includes Lance Berkman (Cardinals), Tim Byrdak (Mets), Philip Humber (White Sox), Lucas Luetge (Mariners), Jeff Niemann (Rays), Joe Savery (Phillies) and David Aardsma (on the Yankees' disabled list).

    Nation's Top Win Percentage From 1999 To 2011
    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 the nation's top win percentage. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2011: (This list does not include any 2012 results.)
    Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
    Rice, 635-221-0 (.742)
    Florida State, 651-227-1 (.741)
    Oral Roberts, 561-224-0 (.715)
    Texas, 614-247-1 (.713)
    Coastal Carolina, 573-234-0 (.710)
    North Carolina, 589-246-1 (.705)
    Cal State Fullerton, 579-244-0 (.704)
    Arizona State, 531-224-1 (.703)
    South Carolina, 612-261-0 (.701)
    Miami, 565-246-3 (.696)
    Wichita State, 598-276-0 (.684)
    Georgia Tech, 551-255-1 (.683)
    LSU, 558-276-5 (.668)
    Clemson, 566-288-1 (.663)
    Nebraska, 527-268-2 (.662)
    Tulane, 532-275-2 (.659)
    Stanford, 527-274-2 (.658)
    East Carolina, 519-271-0 (.657)
    Notre Dame, 511-271-5 (.652)
    Coll. of Charleston, 487-279-0 (.636)
    Florida, 517-300-2 (.632)
    TCU, 498-290-0 (.632)
    Southern Miss, 503-296-0 (.630)
    Alabama, 508-300-0 (.629)
    Virginia, 498-294-2 (.628)

    Welcome Back Rice Baseball Alumni
    Over 100 Rice baseball lettermen, from as far back as the 1940s to the recent College World Series teams, were on hand Feb. 4 at Reckling Park as the Rice Owls baseball program celebrated its rich heritage with its biennial Alumni Weekend... A host of former players, many still playing professionally and some who were in the major leagues in 2011 like Joe Savery and Lance Pendleton, came home to Reckling Park to renew friendships and see old teammates. There may have been a little rain, but it was a fun day for all.
    Check out the video of the Baseball Alumni Fan Fest here

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