Tourney primer: Rice Owls
Beat: Cal (2X: 26-11, 7-4), San Diego (9-8), Southern Miss (2X: 10-2, 21-14), Texas Tech (3-2), TCU (5-4), Texas State (2X: 5-0, 16-2), Houston (6X: 8-2, Series sweep 25-9 combined score, 15-5, 24-3)
Lost to: Cal (2X: 8-6, 6-4) San Diego (2X: 6-4, 6-5), Southern Miss (2X: 11-10, 7-4), Stanford (Series sweep, 27-15), Texas (2X: 2-1, 5-1), Texas A&M (7-1), Lamar (13-7)
Sophomore 3B Anthony Rendon -- .393, leads team in runs (79), home runs (23), slugging percentage (.787), walks (62) and RBIs (78), 83 hits (second on team), has only struck out 21 times
Senior C Diego Seastrunk -- .377, 43 runs, 63 hits, 49 RBIs, 32 walks, .475 on-base percentage, only 17 walks
Junior SS Rick Hague -- .352, 69 runs, 86 hits (leads team), 20 doubles (leads team), 14 home runs (second) but has 50 strikeouts to 28 walks and a team-leading 23 errors (.928 fielding percentage)
Senior RHP Jared Rogers -- 8-1, 4.10 ERA, 13 starts, two complete games, allowed 89 hits in 79 IP, 48 strikeouts to just 12 walks
Junior RHP Boogie Anagnostou -- 3-4, 4.18 ERA, eight starts, 64 hits in 60 1/3 IP, has walked one more than he's struck out (25 to 24)
Sophomore LHP Taylor Wall -- 5-5, 4.65 ERA, 14 starts, 75 hits in 81.1 IP, 58 srtikeouts to 30 walks
Senior RHP Mike Ojala -- 5-2, 3.80, nine starts, 51 strikeouts to 19 walks, .206 opponent's batting average
Most used relievers:
Junior LHP Abe Gonzales -- 4-3, 3.23 ERA, 26 appearances and two starts, 56 hits allowed in 53 IP, 31 strikeouts to 14 walks
Freshman RHP Tyler Duffy -- 2-2, 5.21 ERA, 25 appearances, 42 hits in 38 IP, 41 strikeouts to 15 walks
Freshman RHP J.T. Chargois -- 3-2, 3.29 ERA, 15 appearances and two starts, 33 hits in 27 1/3 IP, 14 strikeouts to 4 walks, but .306 opponent's batting average
Junior LHP Doug Simmons -- 4-0, 2.66 ERA, 20 appearances, 12 hits in 20 1/3 IP, .169 opponent's batting average but 17 walks to 14 strikeouts
Will move on if:
Texas can't escape from its funk. Rice isn't as strong as years' past but they can take advantage of a poor Longhorn performance to claim the regional. The Owls are a deep team from a relief standpoint, and if Texas allows them a chance with an early loss, Rice may have an advantage in the later innings of crucial games. But they can expect to lose the starting pitching matchups, unless their starters step up in a big way. The Owls also have a balanced offense led by Rendon, but with many players who can hit. Shutting down or walking one won't guarantee a win. Texas is still a clear favorite for the region, but the Longhorns will have sturdy competition with Rice and the Ragin' Cajuns. Even with one loss, Texas may have an advantage over Rice and Louisiana-Lafayette, matchup wise. However, if Rice finds its way into a Sunday or Monday game with a Super Regional bid on the line, it should be appointment listening/following on a computer.
Could be trouble if:
They catch a hot opposing pitcher. The three top seeds in this region can all score runs right there with the best in the country. What will decide the games is run prevention. Rice coach Wayne Graham will need to coordinate his pitchers perfectly if the Owls have a chance to move on. They can't out-muscle Texas, but that's not to say intangibles (the Longhorns' performance in the Big 12 tourney, Rice's NCAA experience and coaching) can't decide the series. If Rice does everything right this weekend, they will still have to hope for a weak UT start or two to give them a window. If they get that, a regional win is possible.
First game: Friday, 1 p.m. vs. No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Bob Stoops' recent comments about the SEC and the pending college football playoff, what appears to be an unpredictable Big 12 in 2013, how the Aggies will handle expectations and more.
Play Podcast Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin talks about the improvements being made to Kyle Field, what those improvements will to for the program, the success of last year, Johnny Manziel's offseason and the expectations for the Aggies in 2013.
Play Podcast Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo talk about Texas A&M's decision to expand its stadium and say although the Aggies had a fantastic year, the school must also be careful not to overextend its resources based on a single hot stretch.
Play Podcast Baylor head coach Art Briles joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Terrance Williams.
Play Podcast Arlington and Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett to discuss the draft, coaches and advice from his dad.
Play Podcast Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his school's Cinderella story and playing in the Sweet 16 at Cowboys Stadium.
Play Podcast Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby joins Fizsimmons & Durrett to discuss Cowboys Stadium as a venue, the state of Big 12 basketball, the new 2014 college football format, why there's no hurry to have a Big 12 football championship and much more.
Play Podcast Jay Bilas joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, the intrigue surrounding the Northwest Region and the excitement over FGCU, even though a similar story happens every year.