Though it's not a big blow to the Rice Owls, it's still unfortunate news: shortstop Derek Hamilton has decided to leave the program, following a recent loss in playing time.
Hamilton opened the season as Rice's starting shortstop, but was replaced by Ford Stainback shortly after Rice began Conference USA play. The demotion was certainly deserved, as Hamilton only managed to hit a paltry .151 in 35 games on the season.
Rice has had no trouble winning this year, as the Owls were ranked by Baseball America as the fifth-best program in the nation right now, behind Florida State, Baylor, Louisiana State and South Carolina -- making them legitimate College World Series contenders.
Stainback, a freshman, will continue to man shortstop for the Owls. Stainback has started 23 games, and through 95 at bats, is hitting .263 with a healthy .397 on base percentage, but is slugging just .316. Still, getting on base at a near 40% rate is more than adequate for a freshman shortstop.