Owls Announce 2016 Schedule With Start Of Fall Training

Sept. 29, 2015

HOUSTON - Now entering his 25th season at the helm of the Rice baseball program, Owls head coach Wayne Graham has started the fall training program and announced the team's upcoming 2016 schedule.

Rice returns six offensive starters in the batting order and eight veteran pitchers who helped lead the 2015 squad to a 37-22 record and the Conference USA regular season title. Under the direction of coach Graham, the Owls have won or shared a conference regular season or tournament title in each of the last 20-straight seasons. Fans can get a special fall preview of the 2016 baseball team on October 17 (Saturday) when the Owls host Lamar in an exhibition game at Reckling Park.

The official 2016 spring schedule is challenging slate of 54 regular season games, including 31 at Reckling Park (the most since 2012) and another five in the greater Houston area.

The Owls open the spring slate at home on Feb. 19 with a three-game weekend series against Pac-12 power Arizona. Rice then hosts familiar foes Dallas Baptist and Texas State before heading downtown to Minute Maid Park to play in the annual College Classic Tournament on Feb. 26-28. In what could possibly be the nation's best collegiate tournament of the early season, and played in the fantastic major league home of the Houston Astros, the Owls are scheduled to face Arkansas, TCU and Louisiana-Lafayette (respectively) in this year's College Classic.

Rice in fact has two meetings with TCU, a back-to-back participant in the previous two College World Series. The Horned Frogs visit Reckling Park on March 15, while another familiar longtime rival Texas A&M plays a single game at Rice on April 5.



The talented lineup of teams also visiting Reckling Park in 2016 are Houston, East Carolina, UCF, Florida Atlantic, UAB, Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, Charlotte, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Lamar.

Rice road games are at Southern Miss, UTSA, Middle Tennessee, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Lamar, Texas State, Sam Houston State and Houston. The Owls play a total of three games against crosstown rival Houston where the annual Silver Glove Trophy will be on the line. The first is at U.H. on March 22 with a second at Reckling Park on May 10. The series finale is set for May 17 at neutral Constellation Field, the minor league home of the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Season ticket and single game information will be available next month on the RiceOwls.com ticket page. The official start times will be announced at a later date.

Feb. 19-21 (Reckling Park)
  • Arizona is under the direction of head coach Jay Johnston, in his first season at the helm of the program.
  • The Wildcat's 2015 recruiting class has been ranked 19th in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball.
  • The last time Arizona played at Reckling Park in 2012, the Wildcats went on to win the national championship.
Dallas Baptist
Feb. 23 (Reckling Park)
  • Dallas Baptist has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five years.
  • The Patriots finished the season ranked No. 15 in the nation and completed the regular season with the top RPI in college baseball.
  • DBU tied a school record with seven picks in the 2015 Major League Draft.
Texas State
Feb. 24 (Reckling Park)

  • A longtime Rice opponent, Texas State finished tied for sixth in the Sun Belt Conference last season.
  • Granger Studdard hit .281 oversall led the Bobcats with 11 home runs as a sophomore.
  • After a February meeting at Reckling Park, the Owls travel to San Marcos in April for the last non-conference game at an opponent's field.
Feb. 26 (Minute Maid Park)
  • Arkansas is one of just five teams in the nation to advance to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past 14 years.
  • The Razorbacks have reached Omaha four times since 2004.
  • Arkansas finished No. 2 in the country in average attendance for the third consecutive year, with 8,290 fans per game.
Feb. 27 (Minute Maid Park); Mar. 15 (Reckling Park)
  • TCU has played in each of the last two College World Series.
  • The Horned Frogs are the defending Big 12 champions after claiming TCU's first outright Big 12 title last year.
  • In addition to four starting position palyers returning, and five pitchers back for 2016, TCU had one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.
Feb. 28 (Minute Maid Park)
  • Last season the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns won the Houston Regional to advance to the Super Regional round.
  • The Ragin' Cajuns recently had its 17-man recruiting class tabbed No. 13 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.
  • D1Baseball.com ranked the Ragin' Cajuns as one of the top 30 college baseball programs of the modern era.
Sam Houston State
Mar. 2 (Huntsville); Mar. 29 (Reckling Park)
  • Sam Houston ranks fifth in Texas and first in the Southland Conference with six NCAA Regional appearances since 2007.
  • The Bearkats return just nine players who saw action a season ago, welcoming in a slew of new faces including 16 true freshmen.
  • SHSU set and tied a program record with five players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft each of the last two years.
Mar. 4-6 (Reckling Park)
  • In 2015 UCF climbed to No. 6 in the country, the highest national ranking in program history.
  • The Knights have made 11 NCAA Division I Tournament apperances.
  • UCF has produced 26 Division I All-Americans, including 14 freshman All-Americans.
Mar. 8 (Beaumont); May 4 (Reckling Park)
  • Head coach Jim Gilligan announced his retirement following the 2016 season, which would be his 39th season at the helm.
  • The Cardinals' leading hitter from the 2015, Stijn van der Meer, returns with a .351 average.
  • Keep an eye on star right fielder Jacoby Middleton, who missed 2015 after an injury in preseason workouts.
East Carolina
Mar. 11-13 (Reckling Park)
  • Second year head coach Cliff Godwin guided the Pirates to a 40-win season, the 2015 AAC Tournament title and a NCAA Regional berth.
  • The Pirates return 17 letterwinners from a year ago, including two of its top four hitters in Kirk Morgan (.293) and Travis Watkins (.292).
  • ECU ranked second nationally in bunt singles (36), and was also among the national Top 20 in walks per 9 innings, double plays turned and strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Mar. 18-20 (San Antonio)
  • UTSA had two players, RHP Brock Hartson and C John Bormann, selected in the 2015 MLB Draft.
  • Head coach Jason Marshall owns the highest winningest percentage in program history and became the fastest Roadrunner coach to reach 100 wins.
  • UTSA returns all but two starters from last year's squad and welcomes 18 new faces for the 2016 campaign.
Mar. 22 (Cougar Field); May 10 (Reckling Park); May 17 (Constellation Field)
  • Houston won the 2015 AAC regular-season title and hosted an NCAA Regional at Cougar Field.
  • The Cougars notched their second straight 40-win season in 2015 and finished among the nation's Top 25.
  • Houston is under the direction of sixth-year head coach Todd Whitting.
Old Dominion
Mar. 25-27 (Reckling Park)
  • Old Dominion won six of their final nine conference games to make the 2015 C-USA Championship.
  • The junior pitching duo of RHP Sam Sinnen and LHP Adam Bainbridge each posted ERA's below 3.00 to lead the team.
  • Last season infielder Zach Rutherford had 11 hits in his last 20 at bats vs. C-USA foes to finish fifth in the league in hitting at .355.
Middle Tennessee
Apr. 1-3 (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
  • Jim McGuire enters his fourth season as the Blue Raiders' head coach. The team's RPI and wins total have increased in each of McGuire's first three seasons.
  • Middle Tennessee will have a new-look team in 2016. The Blue Raiders graduated nine seniors and also had three juniors who were either drafted or signed.
  • The Blue Raiders finished 12th nationally in turning double plays (with 60).
Texas A&M
Apr. 5 (Reckling Park)
  • Last season Texas A&M won its first 24 games on the way to a 50-win season.
  • The Aggies were just one run away from winning a Super Regional to advance to the College World Series.
  • A&M followed having five players selected in the 2015 MLB draft with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.
Apr. 8-10 (Reckling Park)
  • UAB has averaged 34 wins over the last two seasons.
  • A year ago the Blazers became the first team in conference history to record multiple shutouts in the C-USA Championship.
  • The team returns all-conference players Esteban Tresgallo and Ryan Ruggles, among four other position starters and the bulk of its bullpen.
Western Kentucky
Apr. 15-17 (Reckling Park)
  • John Pawlowski will be entering his first season at the helm of WKU baseball in 2015-2016, boasting 505 wins and 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in his career.
  • Coach Pawlowski won over 60 percent of his games in 14 seasons at College of Charleston, which included six seasons with at least 36 wins.
  • The Hilltoppers have a veteran pitching staff to work with, including senior starting pitchers Josh Bartley, John Harman, and Austin King and closer Ben Morrison.
Southern Miss
Apr. 22-24 (Hattiesburg, Miss.)
  • Southern Miss has captured 14-straight winning seasons and won 30 or more games in each of those seasons.
  • The Golden Eagles finished 2015 perfect against its in-state SEC foes, defeating Ole Miss twice and Mississippi State once.
  • USM welcomes the C-USA Baseball Championship back to Hattiesburg for the sixth time this spring.
Apr. 29-May 1 (Reckling Park)
  • Loren Hibbs returns for his 24th season at the helm of Charlotte baseball, the longest tenured coach at Charlotte.
  • The Niners will return eight starters from a year ago along with their entire weekend rotation.
  • Charlotte welcomes 10 newcomers to the 2016 roster including five transfers.
Floria International
May 6-8 (Miami, Fla.)
  • FIU made their first NCAA appearance since 2011, competing in the Coral Gables Regional where they posted a win over No. 25 East Carolina.
  • The Panthers became the first No. 8 seed to win the C-USA Championship, going 4-0 and defeating UAB in the title game, 8-2.
  • For the C-USA Championship, the Panthers hit .370, scoring 44 runs on 51 hits to win their first league tournament since 2010.
Florida Atlantic
May 13-15 (Reckling Park)
  • FAU returns seven starting position players and three starting pitchers from its 2015 NCAA Regional squad.
  • AU was ranked as high as No. 12 in the national polls in 2015 and earned two wins over Top-10 programs.
  • Shortstop CJ Chatham returns after hitting .335 with 44 RBI and 22 doubles with a 19-game hitting streak, earning first team All-Conference USA honors.
Louisiana Tech
Ruston, La. (May 19-21)
  • Under second-year head coach Greg Goff LA Tech proved to be one of the league's most-improved teams.
  • The Bulldogs posted 25 wins, a 10-game improvement from 2014 that was one of the highest in the conference.
  • The team ended the season with a 12-game non-conference winning streak, finishing 17-6 overall.



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