Gators Happy with Maddox as the Closer

Late in a close game, it's hard for Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan to keep Austin Maddox off the mound. Sometimes the sophomore doesn't give his coach a choice. A few times this season, Maddox has told O'Sullivan that he was going to pitch the ninth regardless of score, situation or what the coach says. That's the mindset that has the entire Florida team comfortable with Maddox on the mound.

Maddox can often be found in the bullpen when the Gators are hitting, finding any opportunity he can to get loose when his turn at the plate isn't near. His arm is loose from playing in the field, but it still takes time on the mound for him to get the feel for his pitches.

It's his mindset on the mound that the coaching staff loves. He attacks the strike zone with three pitches, but he confidence in the fastball, curveball and changeup in any count.

When the game is close, O'Sullivan can't keep Maddox off the mound. Florida took a 7-5 lead over Mississippi State in the first game of the SEC Tournament, and Maddox wouldn't be denied a save opportunity.

"We get the last out in the 8th, and he doesn't give me time to make a decision," O'Sullivan said. "He tells me that he's starting in the 9th. He's a competitor. It's really nice to have him at the back of the ball game.

When the Gators took a 3-2 lead over Georgia with a berth in the SEC Tournament Championship on the line, Maddox didn't allow his head coach to think.

"And once again, Austin was tapping me on the shoulder there saying that it was a long day and he would finish it off," O'Sullivan said.

The right-hander isn't hesitation to admit that he talks his way into the game sometimes.

"I kind of talk him into it, but I just love being out there in those situations," Maddox said. "It's probably my favorite. I feel really comfortable. I don't care if it's a one run leader or whatever, I'm real comfortable in that closer role."

RANDALL REBOUNDS: It didn't seem like it would last long, but Hudson Randall went into the SEC Tournament after a string of two uncharacteristically bad starts. The sophomore right-hander wanted to right the ship, and that happened in Hoover. Randall tossed eight shutout innings against Alabama and likely would've thrown a complete game if he weren't pulled to keep him fresh for this weekend's Regional.

The change came in his workout regiment between starts.

"Coming down the stretch towards the end, we were taking workouts lightly," Randall said. "I think my body responds better to lifting more frequently and doing heavier weights. I decided to do that with our trainer, and it paid off so I'll be sticking with it."

Randall said he felt more "energetic and pumped up" on the mound. It wasn't that he felt stronger, just that he felt more capable to execute his pitch location.

"I have another good start under my belt and got my confidence back up," Randall said. "I'm ready to go out in this Regional."

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