STARKVILLE – Mississippi State brought in several quality arms in its 2013 signing class that was ranked No. 2 nationally.
One of those arms, Dakota Hudson, even found a way into the rotation on opening weekend. Hudson was the Bulldogs Sunday starter to begin the season making five starts as a true freshman.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander debuted against Western Carolina on Feb. 16 lasting four innings and allowing one run on four hits with a pair of strikeouts.
“Coming into the game I was pretty relaxed,” Hudson said. “I got done with my warm-up pitches and they pointed at me and said ‘alright, let’s go’. When I turned around after the catcher threw the ball down, everything hit me. I saw everyone that was there and the adrenaline was going straight through me. I just did my best to stay calm and make a pitch.”
Hudson went on to start the next three Sundays and picked up his first collegiate win against Eastern Illinois. He made his final start a month later at LSU and did not pitch again until he threw an inning of relief at the SEC Tournament.
“I was just trying to stay prepared,” Hudson said. “You’re no use to the team if you’re not ready to be out there. Personally, I was just waiting for my time and try to take advantage of it.”
Hudson finished his freshman campaign with a 1-2 record and a 4.67 earned run average. He logged 17.1 innings with 10 strikeouts and eight walks.
“It was crazy this first year being thrown into the college scene,” Hudson said. “Just the heavy lifting, environment and the players that you get to play with is completely different that what you expect from high school.”
The Dunlap, Tenn., native was a Top 100 prospect by Perfect Game and was selected in the 36th round of the MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers following a standout senior season. Hudson sported a 1.09 ERA with 124 strikeouts and 14 walks in 64 innings at Sequatchie County High School.
Hudson also held a scholarship option from Kennesaw State in addition to his Rangers offer but a visit to Dudy Noble Field was enough to get him to Starkville.
“Once I came on an official visit and met everybody here, I loved it here,” Hudson said. “I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
Hudson arrived at MSU throwing a two and four-seam fastball along with a curveball. In working with pitching coach Butch Thompson, he quickly developed two more pitches – a cutter and a one-seam fastball that he uses as a change-up – to add to his arsenal.
With his role likely to increase in 2015, Hudson is grateful he gained the experience he did on the mound as a freshman in order to move forward when fall practice begins.
“It was huge, especially when it comes to knowing the talent and knowing you can’t just get away with everything,” Hudson said. “You can’t miss and every pitch counts more at this level.”
Hudson spent his summer pitching for San Luis Obispo in the California Collegiate League. In six outings, he went 2-2 with a 4.64 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 14 walks in 21.2 innings of work.