HOUSTON – A challenging slate of games, including 29 at Reckling Park and with trips ranging from Honolulu to Miami, make up the Rice Owls’ 2013 baseball schedule announced on Monday (Oct. 15).
Rice opens the 55-game, 2013 regular season schedule at home against national powerhouse Stanford with a three-game weekend series Feb. 15-17. The rugged list of opponents features 18 games against nine NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago. Four of the Owls’ opponents (Stanford, Baylor, Texas A&M and North Carolina) were home seeds of NCAA Regionals.
Head coach Wayne Graham, who is starting his 22nd year at the helm of the Rice baseball program, said that playing as many tough teams as possible is by design. A demanding schedule prepares the team on the field while building an NCAA Ratings Power Index (RPI) that is high enough to garner consideration for hosting NCAA Tournament games, including a possible national seed for all postseason action. The Owls have hosted NCAA Regional games ten times in the last 12 years and made seven trips to the College World Series over the past 16 years.
“As usual we tried to schedule games that will help get us a high RPI, and also be games our home fans will want to see,” said coach Graham. “This is a very good schedule that follows that guideline. Scheduling has in a way almost become a fine-art. We lined up a lot of good teams to play, now we have to get ready to win these games by next spring.”
The season-opening series against Super Regional participant Stanford marks the first of four NCAA Tournament teams to visit Reckling Park in 2013. Each of Rice’s first four games are against NCAA teams as a meeting with Dallas Baptist (Feb. 19) follows Stanford. Longtime local rival Sam Houston State (Mar. 6) and Conference USA foe UCF (Apr. 12-14) are also NCAA postseason teams visiting Reckling Park next spring.
Rice has home games against California, Harvard, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Memphis, Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, Texas Tech and Tulane. Additional games to see the Owls in the city of Houston include a sensational lineup of Baylor, North Carolina and Texas A&M at the annual College Classic Tournament downtown at Minute Maid Park (Mar. 1-3). The Owls also play a three-game Conference USA series across town at the University of Houston (April 19-21) where the Silver Glove Trophy will be on the line.
The Blue & Gray also takes its winning brand of baseball on the road for some solid matchups. Rice plays at Lamar, Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston State and Texas State. The Owls have C-USA league games at East Carolina, Southern Miss, and defending C-USA Tournament champion UAB. Rice has two exciting long trips to play one former conference foe, as well as one future one. The Owls play four games at the University of Hawaii (Feb. 22-25), a trip the program made every year when Rice was a member of the Western Athletic Conference. Rice also has a three-game series in Miami, Fla., against future C-USA member FIU (Mar. 8-10).