Ambidextrous pitcher adapts in rotation

Konnor Pilkington has made 11 starts and pitched in 14 games as a true freshman for Mississippi State this season. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Konnor Pilkington has made 11 starts and pitched in 14 games as a true freshman for Mississippi State this season. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Konnor Pilkington has provided Mississippi State with a southpaw option in its starting pitching rotation all season.

However, Pilkington has not always been left-handed. In fact, the freshman is ambidextrous and did not begin to primarily throw with his left hand until around the age of 10.

“When I was little I would throw a baseball right-handed,” Pilkington said. “I’d always hit right-handed too but one day I wanted to try something different so I just started throwing left-handed and got more comfortable throwing that way. It’s the same thing with hitting. I just wanted to be left-handed I guess.”

Which hand Pilkington decides to use varies by the task. He brushes his teeth, throws a football and plays basketball and golf right-handed, bowls and writes left-handed, kicks left-footed and is able use utensils with either to eat.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder can still throw a baseball right-handed as well but admits he wouldn’t be able to pitch at the college level from that side.

That’s perfectly okay because Pilkington has fared just fine from the left side in his first season for the Bulldogs. He is 3-1 with a 2.08 earned run average, 42 strikeouts and 15 walks over 43 1/3 innings of work.

Pilkington’s first two outings were out of the bullpen before being tabbed as MSU’s midweek starter. From there, he assumed the No. 3 spot in the weekend rotation giving opponents a different look from right-handers Dakota Hudson and Austin Sexton.

“Every opportunity we’ve given him, he’s gone out there and made the most of it,” said MSU coach John Cohen.

Pilkington started Game 3 in seven of the Bulldogs’ 10 SEC series going 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA, 25 strikeouts and 10 walks with his fastball, slider and change-up arsenal.

“I’m getting a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable,” Pilkington said. “At first it was a little rough because it was new to me being in college baseball and the SEC. But as I’m getting more and more outings and appearances I’m getting better.”

The Hurley native was a Perfect Game All-American and two-time all-state performer at East Central High School. Pilkington struck out 211 batters in only 128 innings during his junior and senior years.

He was recruited by several area schools but there was a comfort level coming from Starkville that he couldn’t resist.

“Mississippi State was always the college I wanted to come to,” Pilkington said. “I was blessed and here I am. My dad’s family has always been huge Mississippi State fans. I’m not really sure why but I guess because we’re a bunch of country bumpkins. The atmosphere up here is just amazing. The Left Field Lounge is something you don’t see every day and the stadium and atmosphere are what attracted me here.”

Pilkington and the Bulldogs begin postseason play this weekend but whenever the season comes to a close he will be traveling to Brewster, Massachusetts to pitch in the Cape Cod League.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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