The 2020 Rice baseball season begins with a three-game series against an in-state rival. The Owls welcome the Texas Longhorns to Reckling Park this weekend.
The long offseason is over and Rice baseball returns to the diamond on Valentine’s weekend for a three-game series with the Texas Longhorns. The Owls won their opening series a year ago, taking two of three from Rhode Island. A similar result this weekend against Texas would qualify as a great start to the 2020 campaign.
Projected Pitching Matchups
Both staffs have question marks entering opening weekend. Here’s our best guess. Stats are from 2019.
Friday | Alex De Leon (7-3, 3.53 – JUCO) vs Bryce Elder (2-4, 2.93)
Saturday |Blake Brogdon (0-0, 27.00 – 1.1 IP) vs Ty Madden (4-1, 3.40)
Sunday | Kel Bordwine (1-3, 4.37) OR Drake Greenwood (0-2, 7.81) vs Coy Cobb (1-3 3.45)
The availability of Roel Garcia probably impacts the pitching combinations somewhat. If he can go a few innings, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brogdon throw most of a game and Bordwine bumped into a long-relief role following a short outing from Garcia. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
Bryce Elder will be a challenging test for the Rice lineup on opening night. He’ll probably be one of the better arms the Owls face this year. He’ll be followed by Coy Cobb and most likely Ty Madden, both of which were regular starters for the Longhorns last season. Cole Quintanilla and Kamron Fields could be the first guys called from the pen. Each was among the leaders in appearances among the Texas staff last season.
The Texas lineup has a lot of talent, but most of it is unproven. Left fielder Eric Kennedy leads the way at the plate. He’s coming off a 2019 season in which he led the team with a .310 batting average and an .800 OPS. After him, center fielder Duke Ellis is probably the next most consistent hitter.
We’ll see a lot of young faces on the dirt against the Owls this weekend. Several true freshmen are likely to earn starting roles out of the gate. Two-way player Andre Duplantier and power hitter Brenden Dixon should both see plenty of action.