Hudson Randall Gets Back To Normal—Almost

HOOVER, Ala.—Kevin O'Sullivan had it almost right.

"I think it all started and ended with Hudson Randall on the mound—he was outstanding today," the Florida coach said. "Typical outing for him: eight innings, four hits, one walk."

That's where the "almost" part comes in: in a "typical" outing, Randall doesn't issue any walks. He did not walk any in nine of his previous 13 starts this season, and he had just six walks in 84 innings all season.

Certainly, though, O'Sullivan was right to call Randall's outing "outstanding." The sophomore righthander carved up Alabama for eight innings in Florida's 6-0 win, getting 13 groundball outs (including three double plays) and retiring 12 straight at one point in the middle innings. He finished with two strikeouts.

"He's Greg Maddox," Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Everything moves, the ball stays down, he never elevates anything. So even when you get in an advantage count, he makes a quality pitch. That pitch is down, at the knees or on the black, and he's got good sink on it . . . He makes pitches. Even though he may not have that dominant, overpowering fastball, it's still 88-91, occasionally 92, with sink and with location. He's good, and that's why he pitches on Friday nights for one of the best pitching staffs in the country."

Randall couldn't help but crack a smile when a reporter told him that Gaspard had compared him to Maddox.

"He was one of my idols growing up," Randall said. "Growing up in Atlanta, I saw him as much as I could. I kind of model myself after him as much as I can, in that I'm not a strikeout pitcher; I try to get ground balls."

O'Sullivan said Randall had very good sink on his fastball, leading to all those groundball outs, and he had success throwing a number of right-on-right changeups, which is a little unusual for him.

Randall (8-3, 2.45) had actually given up four runs in each of his last two starts, and he said he hit the weight room even harder in an attempt to improve his endurance. He also said his location was better Thursday, though "not drastically better."

"I was mixing it in and out, hitting both sides of the plate better than I had been in the past," Randall said. "The biggest difference was I was getting ahead of hitters, not letting them get ahead in the count."

In other words, he was back to being typical Randall. Except for that walk, of course.