Nov. 12, 2010
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball program has signed 12 recruits in the early period who will join the team for the 2012 season, announced head coach Wayne Graham on Friday (Nov. 12).
Eleven of the Owls' signees are from the high school ranks, with one junior transfer. All are from the state of Texas and seven are from the greater Houston area who can continue their collegiate careers in front of hometown crowds at Rice's Reckling Park.
The signees include Nick Bullington, Carter Burgess, Skyler Ewing, Zechariah Lemond, Ryan McCarthy, Chris McFarland, Austin Orewiler, Evan Rutter, Trevor Simms, Jordan Stephens, Christian Stringer and John Williamson (a roster listing appears below). The group officially enrolls at Rice in the fall of 2011. Their first baseball season with the Owls would be in the spring of 2012. Coach Graham had high praise for the program's latest class and his assistant coaches who brought the signees together.
"This is a balanced class, with a good combination of pitching arms and some talented bats," said coach Graham, who will be entering his 20th season at the helm of the program this spring. "It's a big class with a dozen guys, but we didn't want to hold back (from signing players later in the spring) when we knew we had the chance to sign such known-quality players in the fall. Of course the pro teams know the good players too, so as always we'll keep our fingers-crossed that we're not hit too hard by the draft (in the spring 2011).
"The class is excellent in size and quality," coach Graham added. "(Rice assistant coaches) Mike Taylor and David Pierce did a great job again in identifying and signing this class. They have helped the program, and fulfilled my wishes."
The signees are a talented group of individuals who have garnered a host of awards and led their respective teams to success. Nick Bullington earned First Team All-District 3-5A as a junior catcher/outfielder for a Richland High School squad that advanced to the Region I bi-district playoffs. He hit .410 and drew 32 walks for a .580 on-base percentage as the primary leadoff batter for the Rebels last season. He stole 36 bases in 39 attempts and scored 36 runs in 31 games played. The versatile athlete also starts as a receiver on the Rebels' football team.
Carter Burgess becomes the Owls' third signee in the last four recruiting classes from a Houston Memorial HS program that in 2010 reached the 5A Region III finals. He earned First Team All-District 18-5A shortstop as a junior last season, batting .366 with seven home runs, 42 RBI and 45 runs scored in the Mustangs' 44 games. He maintained a .573 slugging percentage and was tabbed as a Junior All-Star by the Houston Area Baseball Coaches Association. He was an Area Code invitee and Third Team All-Greater Houston infielder by Houston 5A Baseball.com. Burgess was selected as the district's newcomer of the year as a sophomore in 2009.
Skyler Ewing is a versatile catcher/first baseman for Arlington High School in District 4-5A. He batted .366 with 12 home runs and a .841 slugging percentage as a junior last season. Ewing led the Colts with 33 RBI, scored 21 runs and maintained a .500 on-base average in 29 games played.
Waltrip High School's Zechariah Lemond is a second Team All-Greater Houston selection by Houston 5A Baseball.com and a two-time First Team All-District 21-4A honoree (as a junior and as a sophomore). He helped the Rams win the 2010 district crown with an undefeated league record and reach the 4A Region III quarterfinals. He went 4-2 on the mound overall with a 3.03 ERA, leading the staff in innings (30) and strikeouts (25). He also batted .320 with a .507 slugging percentage.
Ryan McCarthy helped the Plano Wildcats to 14 wins in District 8-5A. As a junior pitcher he finished third on the staff in innings (30.2) and strikeouts (24). McCarthy also collected 24 hits in 27 games and led the squad in home runs.
Lufkin High School's Chris McFarland is a first Team All-District 14-5A honoree, one of the Houston area's elite prep leagues. He batted .426 in 30 games as a junior and led the Panthers in hits (40), home runs (7), doubles (10), runs scored (30) and slugging percentage (.798). McFarland helped the team advance to the 5A Region II bi-district playoffs. He was a member of the 2010 Texas Rangers Area Code Team who participated in the Area Code Tournament in Long Beach, Calif. He was also selected for the last summer's national high school All-America game that was televised live from Wrigley Field.
Austin Orewiler is a 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher from Ball High School in Galveston. He went 3-2 with a 3.15 ERA to help the Tornadoes post a winning record in District 24-5A. Orewiler fanned 18 and walked only four in 20 innings of work.
Klein High School star Evan Rutter is a First Team All-District 13-5A selection for a Bearcats team that went 33-7 (the fifth-best win percentage in Texas) and advanced to semifinals of the state playoffs. He went 3-1 with a save and a 4.31 ERA last season. Rutter struck out 43 in 37.1 innings and maintained a 3.3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. At the plate he batted .322 with a 38 RBI, 29 runs, and a .455 slugging percentage. Rutter earned Second Team All-Greater Houston by Houston 5A Baseball.com.
Trevor Simms pitched and hit to help lead Liberty Christian High School to a 27-8-1 record competing in TAPPS 1-4A. He went 4-1 with a save in nine appearances on the mound for the Warriors last season. He held 108 opposing hitters to a composite .074 batting average and allowed only one extra base hit in 23.1 innings of work. Simms was among the district leaders with 35 strikeouts, an average of 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He was a member of the 2010 Texas Rangers Area Code Team who participated in the Area Code Tournament in Long Beach, Calif. The versatile, multi-sport star also plays on the Warriors' football team. (He is of no relation to current Owl freshman pitcher John Simms.)
Jordan Stephens is a right-handed pitcher who earned First Team All-District 24-5A honors for an Alvin High School squad that advanced to the bi-district playoffs. He went 7-3 with two saves on the mound for the Yellowjackets. Stephens posted a 0.95 ERA with 119 strikeouts in 73.1 innings, maintaining a steady 3.3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He was a member of the 2010 Texas Rangers Area Code Team who participated in the Area Code Tournament in Long Beach, Calif.
Christian Stringer of Hallsville, Tex., and Navarro College is lone junior transfer in the current class. Stringer batted .352 with 38 runs scored and 32 RBI in 40 games at Navarro. He maintained a .535 slugging percentage and .429 on-base average for a 35-18 Bulldogs team that advanced to the Region XIV JC Tournament. The former prep standout at Hallsville High School led the Bobcats to a 23-5 record and the 4A Region II semifinals as a senior in 2009.
John Williamson from nearby Lamar High School is a two-time All-District 20-5A honoree, including first team honors as a junior and a second-team selection as a sophomore. He was tabbed as a First Team All-Greater Houston selection by Houston 5A Baseball.com after helping lead the Redskins to a 27-8 record and to the Area round of the state playoffs. He batted .445 with 11 home runs from the left side and maintained a .927 slugging percentage. Williamson scored 49 runs, drove in 57 and stole 16 bases in Lamar's 35 games.
Last spring the Rice baseball team advanced to an NCAA Regional for a 16th-straight year. The Owls open the 2011 season with a three-game home series at Reckling Park against national power Stanford on Feb. 18-20.
2010 Rice Baseball Signing Class (to enroll in the Fall of 2011)
|Name||Pos.||B/T||Ht.||Wt.|| Hometown (Previous School)||Nick Bullington||C/OF||R/R||5-11||180||Fort Worth (Richland HS)
||Carter Burgess||INF/OF|| R/R||6-1||175||Houston (Memorial HS)
||Skyler Ewing||C/1B|| R/R||6-1||220||Arlington (Arlington HS)
||Zechariah Lemond||P|| R/R||6-3||175||Houston (Waltrip HS)
||Ryan McCarthy||P|| R/R||6-3||180||Plano (Plano HS)
||Chris McFarland||INF|| R/R||6-1||195||Lufkin (Lufkin HS)
||Austin Orewiler||P|| R/R||6-2||180||Galveston (Ball HS)
||Evan Rutter||P|| R/R||6-3||190||Spring (Klein HS)
||Trevor Simms||P/OF|| R/R||6-3||195||Hurst (Liberty Christian HS)
||Jordan Stephens||P|| R/R||6-2||185||Alvin (Alvin HS)
||Christian Stringer||INF||L/R||5-10||180||Hallsville (Navarro College/Hallsville HS)
||John Williamson||OF/P||L/L||6-1||180||Houston (Lamar HS)