Owls Win C-USA, Also Hosting Regional

Despite a less than stellar record in the month of May, the Rice Owls returned things to order this weekend in Hattiesburg...

Two weeks ago it seemed as if the Owls may not host an NCAA Regional Tournament in 2009. The Owls were considered a "bubble" team, and were hardly a lock to be a tournament host.

But as it seems is always the case, Wayne Graham's bunch worked out their inconsistencies just in time to shine when they needed to.

Consider order in Rice Baseball to be restored.

The Owls won the C-USA Tournament Sunday by virtue of an 8-6 win over host Southern Miss. The Owls went undefeated in Hattiesburg, and as a result not only won the Tournament, they won their 14th straight Conference Championship, and were also awarded an automatic host site for the NCAA Regional Tournament. Rice will host a Regional for the 8th time in 9 years.

It seems Rice peaked at just the right time of the season. Something Wayne Graham teams always do. Hardly a coincidence. Graham is a legend in the game because his teams win when they need to.

They certainly needed to this weekend.

In taking the title, the Owls were dominating, outscoring their opponents 36-9 in four tournament games.

Sunday's game was the toughest of all their tournament games. The Owls got a solid effort from Taylor Wall. The lefty pitched 5 shutout innings before finally yielding a run. The freshman from Houston Westside pitched on 3 days rest after firing a complete game shutout Wednesday night.

Michael Fuda and Jimmy Comerota fueled a two-out two-run rally in the 8th inning that pushed the Owls ahead for good. Anthony Rendon continued his awesome power display with his 19th Home Run of the season. After pitching a complete game himself, Ryan Berry came on in the 9th Sunday to earn his first save of the year and secure the victory for Rice.

Seven Owls were selected to the All Tournament Team - Ryan Berry, Diego Seastrunk, Steven Sultzbaugh, Rick Hague, Michael Fuda and Taylor Wall joined Anthony Rendon as those chosen.

Rendon also added Tournament MVP honors to his already phenomenal freshman season. This week Rendon was named C-USA Player-of-the-Year, as well as C-USA Freshman-of-the-Year.

The Owls will continue their pursuit of another trip to Omaha next weekend when the NCAA Regional Tournament gets under way Friday, two games are scheduled. Rice (39-15) will learn who will be joining them in the Regional on Monday.

Congratulations to the Owls on another fantastic regular season.

Publisher's note: This is my final article as publisher of Owl Digest. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed covering Rice Athletics for you guys. Thank you all for your support. Keep supporting the Owls, I'll see you at the ball game...David

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