In a bit of a surprising development, Southern Miss announced Friday night that senior right-hander Cord Cockrell will be the starting pitcher for Saturday's game in the Tallahassee Regional.
USM will take on Florida State, which beat Alabama State 18-6 Friday night, at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Dick Howser Stadium. USM beat South Alabama 14-2 in the first game of the day.
Cockrell dealt with shoulder soreness late in the season and hasn't lasted very long in a pair of outings since sitting out the Louisiana Tech series in mid May.
He threw 38 pitches in three scoreless innings against Florida International on May 19. His next outing didn't go as well as he failed to make it out of the second inning of a 17-5 win over Old Dominion on May 25 in the opener of the Conference USA Tournament. He gave up five runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings against ODU.
If Cockrell can give USM a good three or four innings, that's likely all USM needs of him. Jake Winston and Nick Johnson have both been strong in middle relief this season and can easily last three or four innings out of the bullpen.
Cockrell, who was USM's Friday night starter for much of the season, is 7-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 14 starts this season.
Florida State has decided to go with freshman left-hander Tyler Holton, who is 2-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 16 appearances, eight starts, this season. Holton has 72 strikeouts and 30 walks in 56 innings.