Dakota Hudson Dominates Cape Cod Hitters

Mississippi State junior pitcher Dakota Hudson talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about his outstanding success in the Cape Cod League this past summer.

Your earned run average, which ended up being 1.43, dropped as the summer went on. Did you notice the improvement as the season progressed?
"I did a little bit. I guess the biggest thing was that I was feeling a little more comfortable on the mound and starting to get to where I could groove (the ball) easier."

What do you think caused the comfort level?
"I guess the biggest thing was I moved out of relieving into starting. So, when I did get into a jam on the mound I had that experience from being in the bullpen. I was able to pitch out of anything that I got into."

You saved your best outing for your last start in the playoffs. You two-hit a team in the playoffs, Yarmouth-Dennis, that hit .292 in the seven other playoff games. They only hit .065 against you. Did you feel at your best during that games?
"I guess going into it I didn't feel the best. But once I got on the mound I loosen up perfectly. I had all of my stuff that game. I was able to locate all of my pitches for strikes, basically wherever I wanted."

Speaking of all of your pitches, what were your main pitches this summer?
"Basically, I threw my cutter and my two-seam (fastball) the most. Then I would use my curveball and four-seam (fastball). I started playing around with a changeup near the end (of the summer) but I'm still trying to perfect it."

Is a changeup a pitch that Coach Thompson wants you to learn to throw?
"No, but he said something about it awhile ago. But (I see it as) something else that I can have in my arsenal that if teams do start to see me as nothing but (an off-speed) breaking ball pitcher then I will have something that goes the other way and will throw them off."

How long have you been throwing your cutter?
"I actually started using it near the end of the spring. We got down to our last three or four (SEC) weekends and I had been throwing it in the bullpen. I was throwing it with Wes Thigpen, our bullpen catcher, and he helped me with it, then it developed into something more than a bullpen pitch. I started using it in the games and it did really well for me."

Were you confident in it when you started pitching in the Cape Cod League or did you gain confidence in it as the summer progressed?
"I was confident in the pitch when I started. The first weekend that I used it during the spring was the LSU weekend. I felt if I could throw it against them or anyone else in the SEC, then I should be able to use it in a big-time summer league."

How did you use your cutter compared to your other pitches?
"I use it in two different ways. Sometimes I use it to get a strike and (sometimes) I can use it as a strikeout pitch. It just depends on the batter."

You also throw two-seam and four-seam fastballs. I assumed that you tried to take a little velo off of them to help you get better control of your pitches. You actually didn't do that, did you?
"No, I didn't really take much off of my fastballs. For the two-seam I guess I was around 91-93, 94 sometimes, and I had decent sink on it. The four-seam was normally 94-95 and I had a few outings where it was even higher than that, 96. And I was told that I hit 97 a few times."

You've always had the mid-90s velocity, but not the command that you now have. How did you harness your command?
"What I did was take the max effort out of it and get a little smoother with my delivery. And it caused me to be able to repeat my delivery, which allowed me to make better pitches consistently."

You didn't throw a two-seam fastball your freshman season at MSU. When did you start throwing it?
"I guess before the spring of last year. I was using mostly two-seams going into the spring, but I then thought why not have movement and also have the extra weapon of being able to throw it by someone. Coach Thompson and I talked a lot, and he decided the more weapons that I had the more ways that I could be effective. So, we decided to use both."

How do you use your four-seam compared to how you use your two-seam now?
"If I see a hitter making adjustments and start swinging lower or under the ball a little bit then I would use my four-seam. Occasionally, with good hitters you will be able to tell whenever they are starting to make adjustments and swing under, which they did a lot this summer. Once I saw that adjustment I would use my four-seam and they would swing under it like they thought it was a two-seam."

You had your success in the premier league in summer ball, the Cape Cod League. That had to give you a tremendous boost in confidence. Am I correct in saying that?
"Yeah, it did a lot. But there is still a whole lot of ball to play, this fall and next spring. Due to that, I am trying to stay even keel. I am going to work hard in the fall and try to make sure I am in tip-top shape and ready to go in the spring."

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@maxxsouth.net.

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