In his first two years at Mississippi State, Dakota Hudson was on the mound for 34 fairly undistinguished innings. He was a mid-week starter as a freshman and finished with a 4.67 ERA. Last season, he pitched 16.2 innings out of the bullpen and posted some good strikeout numbers, but still had an ERA over four.
With mid-90s fastball, though, he was pegged for big things this year, and the first steps would come in Hyannis. As he had done in Starkville, he pitched both as a reliever and a starter, but the eventual Cape League runner-up Harbor Hawks soon realized what they had on their hands. By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was the de facto ace – and he pitched like it. Hudson posted a 0.64 ERA in two playoff starts and won both. He struck out 13 and allowed only six hits. He pitched eight innings of two-hit ball in game one of the championship series.
After watching from afar and welcoming Hudson back, Mississippi State coach John Cohen said the big summer had Hudson’s confidence blossoming.
One can only imagine where that confidence level is now.
Hudson has been one of the big stories of the college baseball season so far. Pitching as the nationally-ranked Bulldogs’ Friday starter, he’s 4-1 with a 0.92 ERA and has struck out 56 batters in 45.2 innings of work.
And in perhaps the best conference in college baseball, he’s been at his absolute best. In three SEC starts, Hudson owns a 0.00 ERA. And his opposition has included Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, not exactly the dregs of the league. He pitched complete games against both the Commodores and the Rebels. His performance against Ole Miss last Friday was his best yet – 11 strikeouts, four hits, 0 walks.
Hudson’s dominance has been noted more and more with each start, and it’s surely drawing the attention of scouts, too. Hudson may end up as a first-round pick in the MLB draft in June.
But for now, Hudson will try to continue his SEC dominance with his toughest test yet as the Bulldogs take on No. 1 Florida this week.