FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
Houston — Rice head baseball coach Wayne Graham welcomed back 22 returning lettermen from last season’s team that earned the program’s 15th-straight bid to the NCAA Tournament, and a total of 13 newcomers to the roster, as the Owls held their first fall practice of 2009 on Monday afternoon (Oct. 5) at Reckling Park.
The Owls return eight offensive starters and eight veteran pitchers who helped lead the team to a 43-18 record and to the 2009 Conference USA Tournament title. Eleven of the team’s 13 newcomers are from the high school ranks while two are transfers from other colleges. After a brief period of conditioning and drills, Graham divided the team for a Blue-Gray intraquad scrimmage. He was pleased with the team’s physical condition for the first day of practice and stated that even with so many starters returning, playing time can be earned in the fall.
"It’s always good to get practice started," coach Graham said. "Everyone is excited on the first day. We already know we have a lot of players who can play, and we also think we have a lot of new players who can play. We like our pitching, but we won’t turn down a chance for more pitching. The fall is a time when pitchers can evolve. We have the potential to be very good."
Rice’s fall baseball practices continue through the end of the month. The Owls are scheduled to host longtime rival Texas State in a free exhibition at Reckling Park on Oct. 25 (Sun.) at 1 pm. Last spring the Blue & Gray hosted and won an NCAA home Regional to advance to the Super Regional round for a fifth-straight year. The Owls open the 2010 season with a three-game series on the road at national power Stanford on Feb. 19-21.