Randall With a Cleaner Delivery in 2011

Hudson Randall found a kink in his delivery near the end of last season. At the same time Randall and head coach Kevin O'Sullivan found it, the freshman was leading the SEC in ERA during league games. Their hesitancy to correct it during the year was understandable. However, the two spent the offseason working to fix it, and Randall could put together a big sophomore season with his improvement.

Randall fell into the flaw near the end of the season. When Randall's front leg began towards home plate in his windup, his right hand came out of the glove and went through a long arm swing before throwing the ball to the plate. Instead of there being a smooth arm swing, Randall got into a bad habit of straightening his arm out immediately and "stabbing" the ball straight toward the ground.

There was no momentum behind his arm at that point, and Randall had to get his arm up to full speed. It put more torque on his arm than if he had a smooth arm swing.

"He has cleaned it up," O'Sullivan said. "It was his arm action. It probably had something to do with his arm slowing down a little bit as the season went on. Looking ahead, I think that's something that will help him."

Randall went 8-4 with a 3.24 ERA as a freshman, but that doesn't show how truly dominant he was at times. His 2.63 ERA in conference play led the entire SEC, and he did it as a freshman.

In 20 appearances on the season, Randall only struggled in three of them. It wasn't the best timing as all three came against Florida State, but two happened before the conference season began. Randall threw 9.2 innings on the season in two starts and one relief appearance. In those three appearances, he surrendered 12 runs.

If you take his appearances against Florida State out of the mix, Randall's ERA ended the season at 2.36. The success he had on the mound made it difficult for O'Sullivan, who also serves as the team's pitching coach, to make any changes to his windup.

"He pitched really well," O'Sullivan said. "It's a double edged sword. You don't want to change too much when the guy is successful. Shoot, he led the SEC in ERA and that's hard to do with an older pitcher."

The smoother delivery has helped Randall's off-speed stuff, which made him tough to hit last year, even better. It was difficult for opponents to hit the ball out of the infield with all the ground balls Randall forced.

The delivery improvements will give him another off-speed option.

"It has helped with my curveball," Randall said. "I'm trying to bring the curveball back, instead of throwing so many sliders like I did last year. I'm just trying to smooth my arm out this year, and hopefully get some more (velocity) and movement out of it."

The extra velocity should also come from a full offseason of rest. Randall was accustomed to throwing only around 60 innings when he was in high school. The longer college baseball season forced him to throw 97.1 innings last spring. He needed a break to recover, and he spent time in Gainesville trying to add weight, too.

Randall's 6-3, 185-pound frame has made it tough for him to add weight for as long as he can remember. He was able to put "six or seven" pounds on in the offseason, but that's all he could manage.

"I'm still working on it," Randall said. "It's pretty tough for me. I've been trying though. I've been staying late in the weight room and seeing the nutritionist every day."

Randall has also spent time working with and talking to the incoming freshmen. He was thrown into the fire last season and played a key role on the team that went to the College World Series, and expectations this year won't be any lower than a return trip.

It's something the freshmen will have to deal with. Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the MLB Draft that decided to come to school instead, gets most of the headlines in the freshmen class. However, he isn't the only arm capable of having an impact. Jonathan Crawford, Daniel Gibson and Keenan Kish could have roles as midweek starting pitchers or out of the bullpen.

Randall led the team with 17 starts last year, and classmate Brian Johnson was third on the team with 14 starts during his freshman season. Randall sees similarities between he and Johnson coming into last season and how the current freshmen have looked in the offseason.

"Johnson and I came in with a better mentality than they do, but the pitches (this year's freshmen) throw and their arm strength is a notch up from where we started," Randall said. "Hopefully we can come together and help each other out."

The freshmen arms add to the depth of what is one of the deepest pitching staffs in the country. Returning seven of eight starters in the field and so many arms who contributed last year is building hype in Gainesville around the potential season this team could put together.

"This year is going to be a lot different than it has in the past with all this hype going around," Randall said. "I'm doing the best I can to keep them calm and relaxed to move one step at a time."

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