After dropping two to nationally ranked, perennial powerhouse Long Beach State, Rice baseball has won five in a row and is back on track. While I am always excited for Rice to make a trip to the College World Series (six times in the last nine years) those who know me are aware that I hold our team accountable to a slightly different metric of success: how many times we beat UT each year! Last night our boys did exactly that with a 10-4 trouncing of the Longhorns at Minute Maid Park. Coming into the game UT was ranked #4 while Rice had slipped to #6; I’ll hope to see those rankings reversed when the new poll results are released on Monday.
As a former Rice student-athlete myself, obviously I’m biased in supporting Rice, and it’s certainly easy to hop on the band wagon and support a team that wins most of its games every year. However, I will argue that there are a few things that truly do set Rice apart. First and foremost is the quality of our student-athletes. Having roomed with one of Rice’s best pitchers of all time my freshman year (4-1-3), I have witnessed first hand the well rounded, intelligent, high-caliber individuals Rice puts on its roster.
Second, Rice baseball is an inspirational story. 15 years ago, we had nothing; we were a no-name program in the middle of a region already crowded with talent (UT, UH, A&M, Baylor, LSU, etc.). As the smallest school in the NCAA, we would never have athletic funding pouring in from alumni and supporters. Then came head coach Wayne Graham, who propeled us to the national scene with incredible recruiting and a winning vision. It has been amazing to watch Rice move from an off-the-radar team to a Cinderella story to a David that is always counted among the Goliaths of college baseball.
It will be tough this year to be so far away from the action–especially as I follow Rice’s CWS progress from our Discovery Trip in Tanzania. However, it will take much more than several hours time difference and several thousand miles to prevent me from supporting the Owls. To Rice Be True!