This year, the Rice Owls are currently 17-13, certainly not the dominant record we’d expect them to have at this point in the season. Their recent loss to Dallas Baptist, 7-6, was the latest sign that something is wrong with the Owls.
As usual, the Owls were ranked in the top 10 in virtually every preseason poll. Given their proven track record, their preseason rankings were par for the course.
However, the calendar has turned to April, the month in which conference play begins and the post season looms, and the Owls have been inconsistent and certainly not worthy of a top 10 ranking, or even top 25.
Rice started the season with a four-game losing streak. The Owls won their next five, and then took two out of three at the Houston College Classic.
During that stretch, the Owls won eight of nine and appeared to be back on track. Rice then split a four-game series against California and followed that up with a win over Texas. From Feb. 26 to March 16, the Owls were 11-3, but their overall record was still only 11-7.
They then lost four out of their next six, to San Diego and Memphis, leaving them with a 13-12 record. The Owls bounced back with a five-game winning streak, including a sweep of in-town rival Houston at Reckling Park, before getting upset by Dallas Baptist.
In 12 of the last 13 seasons, Rice has had at least a .700 winning percentage. To reach that this season, they can only afford to lose five or six more games. Nothing’s impossible, but the Owls have been too inconsistent this season to think they can pull it off.
Still, the Owls are a dangerous team. They have more than enough talent to win a conference tournament and make a postseason run. A major factor in their succuss is Anthony Rendon, who is leading the nation in walks with 39 and has a .511 on base percentage. Rendon is also hitting .320, with 11 home runs.
The Owls have two talented starting pitchers who have underachieved, Taylor Wall and Jared Rogers. Wall, who is 1-4 with a 4.43 ERA, pitched a shutout last weekend against Houston, and he appears ready to go on a roll.
If they can get Rogers, their tall, lanky right-hander who is 3-1 with a 4.95 ERA, to stay out of the middle of the plate, they can develop a solid trio to go along with Boogie Anagnostou (2-2, 3.95).
Don’t sleep on the Owls just yet.