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Rice University's baseball team certainly isn't easing its way into the season. The Owls (18th ranked in Baseball America's preseason poll) open by welcoming No. 13 Stanford into Reckling Park for a three-game weekend set. The Cardinals are packed with young talent and are expected to be one of the top hitting teams in the country.
Freshman outfielder Austin Wilson brings a lot of power, with his Stanford debut long anticipated.
Of course, the best hitter in the entire country — and the likely No. 1 pick in the next Major League Baseball draft — plays for the Owls. All-American third baseman Anthony Rendon is coming off a severe summer ankle injury though. How he plays (and how much) in this series will be great fodder for discussion throughout the baseball world.
Rice's pitching is expected to be much improved over 2010 with Chase McDowell having put up impressive performances in the Alaskan League. Rice appears to be a lock to make its 17th straight NCAA Tournament, but the Owls' sights are set higher — on returning to the College World Series for the first time since 2008.