Randall Earns High Praise from O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan has coached a lot of pitchers in his career. He built a reputation for developing pitchers as the pitching coach at Clemson before earning the same reputation as head coach in Gainesville. He has crossed paths and worked with a lot of pitchers, but Hudson Randall has earned a special place in his mind. Randall secured his sixth win of the year Friday with another strong outing.

"I'll be honest with you—he might be the best pitcher I've ever coached," O'Sullivan said after the game. "That's a steep compliment. I know I've coached a lot of good pitchers along the way, but he just knows what he's doing on the mound. He's got a knack for keeping the ball off the barrel. He's always got the count in his favor. He can mix and has four difference pitches."

The outing for Randall was worthy of the compliment. The junior scattered five hits and didn't walk a batter in seven innings. Randall recorded two strikeouts but induced weak contact throughout the game.

He allowed one run and the threat began and ended quickly. Hunter Renfroe doubled and scored on a Matthew Britton single up the middle. After that, it was back in cruise control for Randall as No. 5 Florida secured a 4-1 win over Mississippi State to open the series.

"I'm feeling more comfortable than ever," Hudson Randall said. "The sinker has a lot more movement now later in the year. I really found my curveball now. I'm using all four of my pitches now.

"They're just sharper now. I feel comfortable throwing them in any count and any situation. Early in the year, you try to get ahead with the fastball more. Now I feel comfortable with my off-speed."

The approach of opposing offenses hasn't differed much this year. They're aggressive and swinging early in the count in hopes of getting a hittable pitch to hit hard. It hasn't happened often.

Opponents know Randall is going to throw strikes—he has only walked six hitters in 65.2 innings pitched—which cause them to swing early and not try to work the count. Randall has counteracted that with more off-speed pitches early in the count. The early swings combined with more breaking balls has produced pop outs and weak ground balls.

"Every time that Huddy goes out, I know he's going to give us a good outing," said Florida reliever Steven Rodriguez, who is also Randall's roommate. "He's going to compete and be out there pounding the zone. He throws more strikes than anybody out there.

"It's something we talk about all the time. He wants to get out there and just be his old self again and be back to the guy he was last year and the guy we depend on every Friday night."

He was against the Bulldogs. Randall went up against Mississippi State ace Chris Stratton and looked like the better pitcher. Stratton, who is expected to be a first round pick in the MLB Draft next month, came into the game with a 9-0 record and a 2.19 ERA.

He pitched well enough to win and gave his team a chance to come out on top. Randall wouldn't give them a chance.

"Hudson Randall matched him pitch-for-pitch and did what he needed to do," O'Sullivan said of Stratton. "He kept the ball off the barrel and didn't go to many three-ball counts. He was in control. It's not easy to do because there's a lot of pressure when you're pitching against somebody like Stratton."

It has become what's expected of Randall. There haven't been many, if any, starts in his career where he's the hardest thrower on the mound, but he has thrown some of the biggest games during Florida's recent run of success.

Even after winning 11 games in 2011, Randall went into the offseason with a plan and made himself a better pitcher.

"He went out and developed a cutter because he wasn't satisfied with his year last year," O'Sullivan said. "His changeup has improved. What more can you say? The guy just knows what he's doing. He doesn't throw 95 (mph), but I wouldn't trade him for anybody."

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