There never seems to be a shortage of optimism regarding Rice baseball, and with good reason. Under head coach Wayne Graham, now entering his 18th season at the helm of the program, the Owls have now been to NCAA Regionals 14 years in a row, won or shared a regular season conference championship for 13-straight years, and been to the College World Series in Omaha seven times in the last dozen years.
This year’s Owls team has something a little different. The team has a distinct mix of confidence and motivation.
The confidence comes from the fall training sessions of 2008 where the team played and won four exhibitions against Division I opponents. As a team Rice hit a composite .348 and averaged 15 runs per exhibition. The Owl pitchers meanwhile maintained a 2.21 ERA and held the Division I foes to a .210 batting average. It was hard not be confident because even with some major position changes and newcomers in key roles, Rice looked like it deserved a high preseason ranking for 2009.