#15 Rice Baseball Preview

Rice Owls

Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #1 Conference USA
Rice College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Owls are on in impressive streak, advancing to the NCAA regional for 18 straight years! That’s as long as the incoming freshmen have been alive. Under the leadership of Head Coach Wayne Graham, Rice has won at least 40 games 18 times and has owned or shared conference titles 17 times. Coach Graham is still going strong and looking to guide the Owls to another conference championship. Rice is also going to compete to extend their NCAA regional streak, but have far greater aspirations in mind.

2012: 41-19, 17-7
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach:  Wayne Graham

Field Players:
This lineup returns four starters from last year, but no single player is more important than second baseman Christian Stringer. Coach Graham believes he can be the best second baseman in the nation. The second team Preseason All-American selection will pace the offense this year. A season ago he led the team in batting average (.343), hits (81), runs (58), and on-base percentage (.448). His ability to make solid contact with the ball on a regular basis and work the count and draw walks, makes him a very dangerous hitter. Stringer also swiped six bases last year. As a transfer last year, this season he will be even more dangerous as he has had a year to adjust to Conference USA play.  His reliable glove completes his game, making him a true five tool stud for the Owls. Stringer will be out to prove he is the best collegiate second baseman and along the way will fuel the Rice lineup to great success.

Right handed hurler Austin Kubitza will be the anchor of this staff. A Preseason C-USA Pitcher of the Year, Kubitza will once again look to guide this team deep into the tournament. Last year he posted a blistering 2.69 ERA, starting 15 games for the Owls. He labored through 80.1 innings while striking out 73 opposing hitters and giving up just one homerun. Rice has a veteran pitching staff to support Kubitza as well, such as fellow junior John Simms. The young righty laid claim to the best ERA on team (2.56). He was also a workhorse for the Owls, appearing in 25 games and making four starts. He owned a flawless 6-0 record and worked through 63.1 innings. He fanned 59 opposing hitters while only allowing 22 free passes. His command and experience will help him step up this season. Rice is confident that Simms can blossom into a great starting pitcher for them this season.

Who to Watch:
Senior outfielder Michael Ratterree is looking to end his career at Rice with a bang. The Owls are expecting great things out of Ratterree and anticipate that if he has a big year they will as will. He is a phenomenal athlete and has a ton of potential. Although he only batted .233 last season, he still sent six balls whistling over the fence and drove in 32 runs. He showed patience at the plate as well, resulting in a solid .378 on base percentage. This season Ratterree will strive to keep his power numbers up but also increase his batting average. If he is able to do that, this lineup could be explosive.

Final Projection:
Rice has a rich history and they will continue to build upon it this season. Every year they have a strong recruiting class and have talented freshmen eager to make an impact. This year will be no different. The Owls also have a stronghold on Conference USA, only falling seven times in conference play last season. It will be the same song and dance for Rice this season. This is a squad that will not be satisfied with a conference championship; they are out to bring home the national title.  

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Christian Stringer, IF, 236
Hits: Christian Stringer, IF, 81
Home Runs: Michael Ratterree, OF, 6
RBIs: Christian Stringer, IF, 36
Runs: Christian Stringer, IF, 58
Stolen Bases: Christian Stringer, IF, 6

Wins: John Simms, RHP, 6; Austin Kubitza, RHP, 6
Innings: Austin Kubitza, RHP, 80.1
Strikeouts: Austin Kubitza, RHP, 73
Saves:  Zach Lemond, RHP, 1

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#35 Austin Kubitza
#71 John Simms


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