Starkville Daily News - - S -

four or five ideas that ev­ery pitch­ing coach in Amer­ica has. You look at those things. Why do re­ally good hit­ters in the big leagues go through 0-for-20 slumps? I don't know. It's a hard game. Some­times you lose a lit­tle bit of bal­ance or a lit­tle bit of rhythm or there's a mi­nor dis­trac­tion. It could be any­thing, but we've ad­dressed it as con­sis­tently and thor­oughly as we pos­si­bly could. The last two (starts for Pilk­ing­ton) have been a lit­tle bit bet­ter and the last one was no­tice­ably im­proved. Hope­fully, we'll have that mov­ing for­ward.”

In­deed Pilk­ing­ton's last two out­ings have looked

more like what MSU is fa­mil­iar with. In the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale against top-ranked Florida, Pilk­ing­ton went 6.1 in­nings and al­lowed just five hits and three runs. He did walk four bat­ters, but it was a no­tice­able step for­ward.

In the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence Tour­na­ment against LSU last week, Pilk­ing­ton again was solid when he went 4.2 in­nings giv­ing up just four hits and a pair of runs. His out­ing was brief, but only be­cause he was pitch­ing on short rest. Still, Hen­der­son liked what he saw.

“I'd say I was re­ally pleased with his abil­ity to go out and have rhythm in the de­liv­ery from the very be­gin­ning,” Hen­der­son said of Pilk­ing­ton's SEC Tour­na­ment start.

“That's what you no­ticed. It looked cleaner. It was a much more bal­anced, con­sis­tent de­liv­ery. Kon­nor and I have talked about it con­sis­tently and I was re­ally pleased to see that.”

Pilk­ing­ton said his me­chan­i­cal is­sue mostly dealt with him not us­ing his lower half enough when he was strug­gling. He says that has been fixed his last two times out. The Bull­dogs cer­tainly hope so be­cause Pilk­ing­ton can be ex­tremely ef­fec­tive when he's right.

Prior to his three-start rough patch, Pilk­ing­ton had an im­pres­sive 2.57 earned run av­er­age and op­po­nents were hit­ting just .225 against him. Since then, Pilk­ing­ton's ERA has bal­looned to 4.28 and bat­ters are now hit­ting more

than 30 points higher when fac­ing him (.257).

Yet MSU isn't all that con­cerned with where Pilk­ing­ton's num­bers are now. In­stead, the Bull­dogs are fo­cused on the pos­i­tives they've seen from Pilk­ing­ton's last two starts.

Hen­der­son in­di­cated Mon­day that Pilk­ing­ton will al­most cer­tainly draw the start when MSU faces Ok­la­homa in the opener of the Tal­la­has­see Re­gional on Fri­day at 11 a.m. State is bank­ing on Pilk­ing­ton be­ing the guy he's been the last two times out.

“I was re­ally pleased with what Kon­nor was able to do from a de­liv­ery stand­point (the last two starts) and we're ob­vi­ously go­ing to need him to carry that for­ward this week­end,” Hen­der­son said.

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