Rice Owls Baseball – 2014 Preview

Rice Owls Baseball PreviewThe Rice Owls baseball team will begin their 2014 regular season with a three-game series at Stanford from February 14-16. From there, the Owls will head home to Reckling Park for a six-game home stand before heading to Minute Maid Park for the Houston College Classic from February 28-March 2 where they will face Texas, TCU, and Texas Tech.

Rice is coming off of a 2013 season that saw the Owls not only take home the C-USA Tournament title for the fifth time in eight years, but also make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the 19th straight season dating back to 1995.

Rice Owls Baseball

Led behind the pitching tandem of Austin Kubitza and John Simms, the Owls were able to down Oregon in the Eugene Regionals and secure its place in the Raleigh Super Regionals against NC State. However, the Owls would fall just short of advancing to their first College World Series since 2008, losing in two straight contests to the Wolfpack.

Although the Owls will lose both Kubitza and Simms to professional ball, the pitching staff shapes up to be rather impressive going forward. Zech Lemond, one of the top pitching prospects in the country, is likely to move to the weekend rotation in 2014 and will be joined by Jordan Stephens, who was impressive down the stretch last season, particularly in postseason play.

Chase McDowell is poised for a healthy season and should add depth to the rotation, while the likes of Blake Fox and Kevin McCanna should bolster the bullpen.

The Owls lose the leadership of Geoff Parrott behind the plate, but Hunter Kopycinski should take hold of the reigns just fine, as the sophomore was impressive in the postseason in 2013. Michael Ratterree and Christian Stringer will also be gone, but the strong offensive barrage of Michael Aquino, Keenan Cook, Shane Hoelscher, and Ford Stainback should lead the way on offense.

In addition, Leon Byrd, Skyler Ewing, and Connor Teyki saw limited action in 2013, but displayed solid potential and should make a significant splash in the upcoming season.

The Owls have plenty of weapons and have every reason to be optimistic about a strong season in 2014, wherein they will look to earn a trip to Omaha for the first time since 2008 and on a broader scale, capture their second national championship in school history.

About the Author

Josh Vadeboncoeur
Follow Josh on Twitter @vadeboncoeurCBC Josh is currently a student at the University of Florida pursuing a Master of Science degree in Sport Management. He’s an avid fan and scholar of the game, who although has a place in his heart for his Gators, is as objective as they come. Josh is a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, giving him official votes in the Dick Howser Trophy, Regional Players of the Year, and NCBWA All-America voting. Josh’s knowledge of the game of baseball ranges from the post-Civil War baseball boom to the current modern era, covering topics such as business and politics of the game to the minor leagues to negro league baseball and even international expansion. But most of all, a strong passion lies in his heart for college baseball.