Feb. 3, 2009

Courtesy of Rice

HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team, ranked as high as No. 3 in the country in three national preseason polls, held its first practice of 2009 on Sunday (Feb. 1) at Reckling Park. Head coach Wayne Graham, now in his 18th season at the helm of the Owls' program, welcomed back 15 returning lettermen from last season's squad that went 47-15 and reached the College World Series in Omaha for a third-straight year.

"We're very excited about the season and we're ready to go," coach Graham said. "I think everybody's excited about getting started. Our goal is for the pitchers to get the ball over the plate and to keep it down. We hope our defense is as good as we think it can be.

"There are always positions open," coach added. "All year long we'll be looking at positions and who can help us the most. Left-field is obviously a spot we're looking at carefully. We have pretty much a set lineup after that, but there are some back-up spots open right now. We're always watchful and ready for a break-through."

In a look at some of the national preseason rankings, Rice is ranked third in the country by Collegiate Baseball magazine, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll. Rice is fifth in the nation by Rivals.com and seventh according to Baseball America.

The Owls' 2009 baseball season begins with a three-game weekend series on the road against Cal Poly beginning on Feb. 20. The team's official home-opener at Reckling Park is set for Feb. 25 against crosstown rival Houston at 4 pm.