FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
HOUSTON – With no shortage to tough competition and what may prove to be one the best slate of games in the country, the Rice Owls’ baseball schedule for the upcoming 2009-2010 season was announced on Thursday (Sept. 10).
As the Owls’ baseball team did a year ago, there is a spring and fall portion to the new schedule. There are 55 spring games and one fall exhibition to be played as part of the team’s off-season training period.
The 55-game spring slate features 27 home games at Reckling Park and a total of 31 in the city of Houston.
The Blue & Gray returns downtown to Minute Maid Park for three games in the Houston College Classic (Mar. 5-6). Rice meets Texas, TCU and Texas Tech in the annual tournament hosted by major league baseball’s Houston Astros. The Owls play 17 games against nine teams that advanced to NCAA Regionals a year ago.
Rice head coach Wayne Graham said that as in previous years, playing as many tough teams as possible is by design. The rugged schedule prepares the team on the field while building an NCAA Ratings Power Index (R.P.I.) that is high enough to garner consideration for national seed in the NCAA Tournament. Playing a tough schedule has helped the Owls make seven trips to the College World Series over the past 13 years.
"This is a very challenging schedule," coach Graham said. "It’s a schedule that will help us develop, give us a high R.P.I. and have a lot of games people will want to see. For non-conference, we certainly tried to schedule top teams. Playing good teams helps you get better, and a schedule like this will do that. We should have a very high RPI when teams are under consideration to host regionals at the end of the year. I am looking forward to getting the new season started."
Opening day for the 2010 season is Feb. 19. For the third-consecutive year the Owls open the schedule with a three-game road series in California. In 2010 Rice opens with a weekend series at national power Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. The Blue & Gray returns to Reckling Park on Feb. 23 to host longtime foe Texas State in its home-opener. Texas State is also the opponent for the fall exhibition, set for Oct. 25 (Sun.) at 1 pm at Reckling Park.
The Feb. 23 home-opener is in fact the start of an six-game homestand. The early homestand includes Lamar (Feb. 24), crosstown rival Houston (Mar. 2) in game-one of the annual Silver Glove Trophy Series and an elite field teams in the program’s annual home tournament, The Academy Sports + Outdoors Rice Invitational (Feb. 26-28). The 2010 Invitational field features Nebraska, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and NCAA Tournament participant Elon in three days of round-robin action.
Home games at Reckling Park also feature College World Series teams Texas (Mar. 16) and Southern Miss in a three-game Conference USA showdown (May 14-16). East Carolina, UAB and Houston round-out the home C-USA series. Rice hosts Pac-10 foe California for a four-game non-conference clash. The Owls also have home games against teams from around the region, including familiar foes Sam Houston State, Dallas Baptist and Texas Southern.
The annual C-USA Tournament, where a year ago Rice won the league title and the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, is set for May 26-30 across town at the University of Houston. The Owls play at national powers Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, and make road trips to some great destinations for some pretty tough games to play in San Diego, Orlando, New Orleans, Memphis and West Virginia.
Rice baseball’s fall practices begin on Oct. 5 (Mon.). The Oct. 25 exhibition and practices are open to the public.
Baseball season ticket holders can look for renewals in the mail in December. New season tickets may be purchased at the same time for seats that have not been bought in past years. Season ticket and single game information will be available on the RiceOwls.com ticket page in late November.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ESPN