The Rice Owls have made five straight trips to the NCAA Super Regionals (the Sweet 16 of college baseball), so coming up short one year isn’t exactly an indication that it’s time to start panicking on South Main.
Still, one has to wonder what happened to all of those talented Rice bats.
Heading into the season, Rice had arguably more returning batting talent than anybody else in the country. Studs like Anthony Rendon, Rick Hague and Jeremy Rathjen figured to put up a lot of runs, as long as the pitching staff could slow down the opponent. But when it really mattered, it was the bats that disappeared.
In the NCAA postseason-opening loss to Louisiana-Lafayette, the Owls were shut out, 1-0. After putting up 28 runs in their next two games, it seemed the hitting woes might be behind them, but when faced with a top-level pitcher, the bats stumbled once again. In four games, the Owl pitching staff lived up to its end of the bargain, allowing just seven runs. But it was the likes of Rendon and Hague who didn’t show up when it mattered.
Fortunately for the Rice faithful, Rendon (widely considered the best position player in the country) has another year to play at the college level before he is draft eligible. Behind his leadership, the Owls figure to be one of the top contenders to reach Omaha again next year.
I mean, come on, it’s Rice.