Texas A&M baseball will open up its fall schedule on Friday with an exhibition game against Rice.
Sophomore pitcher Chris Weber said the Aggies are looking forward to getting back into a real game-day situation.
“To compete against someone wearing a different colored jersey, someone you don’t know or you haven’t been playing against all fall, it’s a different atmosphere,” Weber said. “We’re all so excited to have the game-type feel. It’ll be at night; the lights are on; the fans will be here.”
The Aggies return 21 members of a 2019 roster that led A&M to its 13th consecutive and 35th overall NCAA Championship appearance. A 4-1 loss to Duke in the Morgantown Regional on June 2 ended A&M’s season and left the Aggies with a 39-23-1 record.
Of those returning, six starting position players will be back for the 2020 season.
Junior Bryce Blaum batted .293 and added 53 runs, 32 RBI, 17 stolen bases, nine doubles, nine home runs and two triples last season.
Also returning are Mikey Hoehner, Cam Blake, Ty Coleman, Will Frizzell and Zach DeLoach.
The Aggies are missing key pieces of last year’s roster though, as shortstop Braden Shewmake and pitchers John Doxakis, Kasey Kalich and Mason Cole all departed for the MLB.
Rice also boasts an experienced roster as 19 members of last season’s squad will return for the 2020 season. The Owls also add 15 new faces, with seven of those entering as transfers.
Cade Edwards and Trei Cruz lead Rice’s 2020 roster, with both hitting over .300. Edwards also had 38 RBI and six home runs in the spring, while Cruz added 44 RBI and nine home runs.
Rice finished last season with a 26-33 record and was 14-16 against Conference USA opponents.
Junior Asa Lacy leads a quartet of returning A&M pitchers. Lacy earned All-American honors following a 2019 campaign in which he posted an 8-4 record with a 2.13 ERA and 130 strikeouts.
The Aggies’ four other pitchers — Weber, Christian Roa, Bryce Miller and Joseph Menefee — combined for a 14-7 record and 232 strikeouts.
Childress said he has seen improvement from his pitching staff over the offseason.
“The pitching’s been very good,” Childress said. “Defensively, we’ve gotten better as we’ve gone along.”
A&M holds a 184-96-2 record over the Owls since the two teams first met in 1914. Friday’s matchup is slated for 6 p.m. at Olsen Field.