1-on-1 With MSU Pitching Coach Butch Thompson

Mississippi State Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Butch Thompson talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about how his pitchers have done during the first two week of scrimmages.

You were inducted into Itawamba Community College's Hall of Fame Saturday. That is obviously a great honor.
"It was special. I thought that President Mike Eaton and Vice President Buddy Collins did a first-class job. The entire day was laid out well. I thought they did an unbelievable job of making us feel special and honoring the three people that were inducted yesterday. I was able to be inducted by Roy Cresap, who was my coach (at ICC). To be inducted by my coach was the most special moment of the entire day. We had an incredible bond. He was probably the first person who made pitching a passion for me, especially causing me to want to teach pitching."

What are your thoughts about the pitching staff overall after the first 8 games of the fall?
"I think through eight games (in the fall) I am the most disappointed in our pitching as I have been in the last three years. We are a pitching staff that can get to two strikes and two outs. But this level requires three strikes and three outs. We are missing a pitch every sequence. We are trying to play seven-inning ballgames and we can't get past four and a half to five innings. I hope there is an understanding among our pitching staff of the urgency that they need to have because we are through two weeks of our fall and approaching the halfway point A red light should be going off in our heads to regroup, replan and learn from these first eight games. We definitely have to make an adjustment quickly. They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. We don't have time for that. We need to get it done in the next 48 hours, and change the course that we are currently going. It has to become dramatically better because this is not even remotely close to the standard that we have become accustomed to over the course of the last couple of years.

"Another thing about the past few years is our defense has been so good. There was more shoving of the baseball in the strikezone and more plays were being made defensively. But when you are out here and get caught in over 20 pitch innings over and over you aren't getting the same prep steps out of your infield, you aren't getting the same attentiveness. We are losing a certain percentage of range and making plays. That all stems off of the pitchers inability to command the strikezone and the count.

"The most positive thing that we have going right now (as a team) is when we get to two strikes and miss with a pitch we can't get away with it because the hitters are doing such a good job. They get extra base hits, are always on the fastball. I think we have two (good hitting) lineups. And when we make a mistake they are squaring the baseball. That is the positive."

Another positive is Trevor Fitts appears to be doing well in the relief role you are using him in during fall scrimmages.
"Yeah, his arm has been very resilient. Today was the first day that his breaking pitches have been really good. He really got his fastball beneath some hitters today. He got ground balls today and got some swing and misses with the barrel going over the ball. He really got his fastball in the bottom of the zone today."

Lucas Laster also pitched for the first time in today's game.
"It was good getting him back out there. We used a screen in front of him during the game but he really wanted to pitch today. He got his two innings in. They weren't perfect but I could see what he was trying to do. You could see that he has instilled some good qualities in himself. The positive is getting him out there he has gotten his feet wet. He will pitch next week with no screen in front of him and he can get his fall going in a good direction."

Dakota Hudson also pitched for the first time. He was 93-94 at first, then got a couple of runners on and then was throwing 87-88 miles per hour.
"We gave him a shot (for his back) and gave him time to get back. In his windup he looked really exciting, then in the stretch he kind of looked like he did when we got into the season last year. No matter how hard you throw until you can command the count it is a tough game."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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