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TBO: Bulls Are Riding His Right Arm

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TBO.com > Sports > USF Bulls

Bulls Are Riding His Right Arm



Published: May 23, 2006

TAMPA - Mired in the worst stretch of his University of South Florida career, junior pitcher Casey Hudspeth decided he needed to do something if the right-hander - and the Bulls - were going to snap out of it.

"I was struggling and very disappointed with the way the season was going and the way I was going," he said.

So Hudspeth sought advice from his father, Larry, and former major-league pitcher Jim Bullinger, who has been helping him since his days at Sarasota High.

The result? Hudspeth went 4-1 with a 3.27 ERA in his last five Big East starts and has led the Bulls into the Big East Tournament. No. 8 seed USF (23-33) opens against No. 1 seed Notre Dame (41-14-1) tonight at 8 at Clearwater's Bright House Networks Field.

Without Hudspeth's late surge - especially his past two starts - the Bulls wouldn't have qualified for the league tournament that runs through Saturday.

In winning his past two starts against No. 4 seed St. John's and West Virginia, the nation's No. 2 hitting team, Hudspeth struck out 17, walked one and allowed only two earned runs.

"He was as good as anyone we've seen this year," West Virginia coach Greg Van Zant said.

USF coach Eddie Cardieri also was impressed.

"The last two games, he's been as nearly perfect as a pitcher could be," Cardieri said. "He was nearly flawless. He only made one mistake against St. John's [allowing a two-run home run] and at West Virginia he only threw 66 pitches in six innings.

"The funk he went through early was obvious. He didn't have a good curveball and he centered too many pitches. His last two starts he's had a great curveball and his location has been tremendous."

Hudspeth said talking with his father and Bullinger was a big help.

"I was trying to strike everyone out and put it all on my shoulders," said Hudspeth, who ranks fifth at USF in career strikeouts (272) and eighth in wins (23). "Instead of letting the defense do its job, let them get ground balls and go deeper in the game and save my arm."

USF pitching coach Nelson North said Hudspeth's increased confidence has been a big factor.

"There was some overthrowing [with his early struggles] that came from frustration," North said. "Sometimes he gets sabotaged by the defense and then tries to strike everyone out. It all boils down to confidence. When he has it, he's very tough to beat. He had lost a little confidence."

Hudspeth (7-6, 4.52 ERA) said he also benefited from changing the position of his thumb on his curveball, a tip he received from USF sophomore Ryan Lau.

Cardieri said Hudspeth's clutch performance wasn't a surprise. "It says what we already know," Cardieri said. "He's very tough, a great competitor and confident in his ability."

Added North: "He's one of the greatest competitors and pressure guys I've been around. He's the bulldog. That says a lot about his makeup. The way his eyes look, the extra pop on his fastball in a big game."

The bigger the game, the better as far as Hudspeth is concerned.

"I think we can surprise some people [in the tournament]," Hudsepth said. "We're coming in with more confidence. We held [West Virginia] pitching-wise and we hit the ball. If our hitting and pitching stay good, we can hang with anyone in the tournament."

MARUSZAK HONORED: USF freshman shortstop Addison Maruszak was named Big East Rookie of the Year. Maruszak, from St. Petersburg Catholic, hit .287 with 14 doubles and 26 RBIs.


WHAT: Big East baseball tournament

WHERE: Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater

AT STAKE: Winner receives automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament

Tickets: $8 or $10 for adults, $4 or $6 for seniors and students each day. Tournament pass $32 or $40 for adults, $16 or $24 for students. Call (727) 467-4457

LIVE STATS: www.BigEastbaseball.com. Audio available for USF games at www.GoUSFBulls.com

TODAY'S SCHEDULE: Game 1-No. 3 Louisville (28-28) vs. No. 6 Rutgers (27-26-1), 10 a.m.; Game 2-No. 2 Connecticut (38-16-1) vs. No. 7 Cincinnati (32-24), 1 p.m.; Game 3-No. 4 St. John's (37-17) vs. No. 5 West Virginia (35-20), 5 p.m.; Game 4-No. 1 Notre Dame (41-14-1) vs. No. 8 South Florida (23-33), 8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY: Game 5-Losers Games 1 and 2, 10 a.m.; Game 6-Losers Games 3 and 4, 1 p.m.; Game 7-Winners Games 1 and 2, 5 p.m.; Game 8-Winners Games 3 and 4, 8 p.m.

THURSDAY: Game 9-Game 7 loser vs. Game 5 winner, 4 p.m.; Game 10-Game 8 loser vs. Game 6 winner, 7 p.m.

FRIDAY: Game 11-Winners Games 7 and 9, 10 a.m.; Game 12-Winners Games 8 and 10, 1 p.m. (Catch 47); Game 13-Game 11 rematch, if necessary, 5 p.m.; Game 14-Game 12 rematch, if necessary, 6:30 or 8 p.m.

SATURDAY: Championship, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)

ABOUT USF: The Bulls were 2-11 in their previous 13 games before going 2-1 at West Virginia last weekend to clinch the final berth in the Big East Tournament. ... Senior LF Kris Howell (.315) and senior C Brian Baisley (.306) are USF's only regulars hitting over .300. RF Joey Angelberger has a team-high 35 RBIs. ... The Bulls lost all three games to Notre Dame this season by a combined score of 29-11.


A great story and a stratagey for winning!! All we have to do is have all the guys go back and get coached on technique/fundamentals by thier fathers/HS coaches/Ex MLB players whatever is most applicable.

I wonder if EC blew up when Ryan Lau "coached" a fellow player. Oh, it wasn't his son being coached so its ok.

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Hope someone on the team took it upon themselves to fall on the grenade and spend some Q-T with a "slump buster" so the team would be ready for tonite's game.   :)

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