First, let's Coach Graham credit for being in Omaha. No he's not satisfied with that alone (none of us are) but recognize his body of work in his tenure at Rice. I don't think this was his best hitting team at Rice, and honestly the pitching staff was probably more crafty than overpowering, but regardless he got the Owls to Nebraska in June. The thing that makes Wayne Graham the best coach in college baseball is that year-in, year-out he takes a bunch of components and builds something. Matter of fact, I liked the coaching job he did this year as much as any since he's been on South Main. Early on it looked like the Owls wouldn't win conference let alone make it to Omaha. So hats off to "Coach", again.
And let's give the team credit too. They reeled off 23 wins in April and May after losing a conference series at home for the first time in forever. This squad was truly defined by the wins and losses. Because, though there were several "star" performances by different players throughout the season, it seemed no one really established "star" billing. There are future stars on the team no doubt, Rick Hague comes to mind, but this team won by playing as a unit, together. But then again would Coach Graham allow it any other way? So hats off to the team too, all of you:
Bobby Bell p B/R 6-4/195 RS JR/2L Aledo//Country Day
28 Ryan Berry p R/R 6-1/195 SO/1L Humble//Humble H.S.
14 Jess Buenger if B/R 5-11/180 JR/1L Bellville/Texas A&M/Bellville H.S.
2 Jimmy Comerota if R/R 6-1/175 RS SO/1L Missouri City//Hightower
41 Nick DeBiasse if/c R/R 6-2/225 FR/HS Lawrence, Kansas//Lawrence H.S.
7 Jordan Dodson of/p R/R 6-1/205 SR/3L The Woodlands//The Woodlands H. S.
12 Matt Evers p L/L 6-3/209 FR/HS Houston//Stratford
15 Michael Fuda if/of R/R 6-0/190 FR/HS Katy//Katy H.S.
10 Jared Gayhart of/p L/R 6-3/195 JR/1L Katy/San Jacinto College/Katy H.S.
24 Abel Gonzales p/1b L/L 6-1/180 RS FR Houston//St. Thomas
11 Rick Hague if R/R 6-2/185 FR/HS Spring//Klein Collins
19 John Hale c R/R 5-9/170 FR/HS Houston//Lamar H.S.
34 Andy Hamilton p L/L 6-8/280 FR/HS Metairie, La.//Jesuit
35 Zack Harwood p R/R 6-1/185 RS FR Groves//Port Neches-Groves
27 Mark Haynes p R/R 6-2/185 RS SO Sugar Land//Austin
21 Chris Kelley p R/R 6-1/180 SR/1L Sugar Land/San Jacinto/Kempner
26 Matt Langwell p R/R 6-3/215 JR/1L College Station/Sam Houston State/A&M Consolidated
25 Lucas Luetge p L/L 6-3/198 JR/Tr Industry/San Jacinto College/Bellville
9 Aaron Luna if R/R 5-11/200 JR/2L Southlake//Carroll
36 Will McDaniel p R/R 6-6/220 SR/3L Houston//Bellaire Episcopal
4 Chad Mozingo of L/L 5-11/185 FR/HS Spring//Klein
1 Derek Myers if R/R 5-9/170 SR/3L Bellaire//Bellaire H.S.
18 Nick Natale of R/R 6-1/175 FR/HS Livingston, New Jersey//Seton Hall Prep
17 Mike Ojala p R/R 6-2/185 SO/1L Kingwood//Kingwood H.S.
32 J.P. Padron if R/R 6-1/210 SR/1L League City/San Jacinto College/Clear Creek
16 Joseph Paylor of R/R 5-10/155 FR/HS Dallas//Hillcrest
23 Bryan Price p R/R 6-4/200 JR/2L Marble Falls//Marble Falls H.S.
31 Jordan Rogers p R/R 6-2/190 JR/Tr Dayton/San Jacinto College/Dayton H.S.
3 Jonathan Runnels p L/L 6-1/170 SR/1L Pasadena/San Jacinto/Sam Rayburn H.S.
5 Diego Seastrunk if/p B/R 5-10/180 SO/1L Channelview//Channelview H.S.
38 Doug Simmons of/1b L/L 6-1/205 RS FR Kingwood//Kingwood H.S.
42 Cole St.Clair p L/L 6-5/225 SR/3L Santa Ana, Calif.//Foothill
8 Garrett Tinsley c S/R 5-9/170 FR/HS Ft. Myers, Fla.//Ft. Myers H.S.
43 Travis Wright p R/R 6-6/180 RS FR Paris//Paris H.S.
30 Adam Zornes c R/R 6-1/215 RS JR/2L Houston//St. Thomas
If I had to bet money now on the Owls 2009 summer destination I'd lay it down on Omaha...
More on the new faces of Rice Football and 2009 recruiting inside Thursday Tidbits in the Owl's Nest...