The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina recovers from rough patch, plays integral role in offense

<p>FILE- Junior catcher Cole Messina runs towards first base after hitting a pitch at Founders Park on March 24, 2024. Messina secured his 100th career hit earlier in the 2024 season.</p>
FILE- Junior catcher Cole Messina runs towards first base after hitting a pitch at Founders Park on March 24, 2024. Messina secured his 100th career hit earlier in the 2024 season.

South Carolina has seen great contributions from its starting catcher, Cole Messina. He has been one of the team's best offensive players since becoming a mainstay in the lineup last season. 

Messina reached a major milestone earlier this year by achieving 100 hits, joining Ethan Petry and Talmadge Lecroy as the only players on the team with 100 career hits.

Messina went to Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina. He hit .492 with 29 runs scored, eight doubles, two home runs, 17 RBI and 10 stolen bases during his senior season in 2021. His efforts helped him lead Summerville to a 5A state championship appearance.

He received multiple accolades that year, including being named to the All-State and All-Region teams all four years in high school, named the 2021 South Carolina Baseball Player of the Year and ranking as the No. 1 catcher and No. 8 overall player in the state by Perfect Game. 

In his freshman season with the Gamecocks, Messina appeared in 17 games with five starts. In those games, he accumulated four hits, two runs scored, and an RBI while walking four times.

As a sophomore, Messina started in 62 of South Carolina's 63 games. He hit an average of .307 and scored 62 runs. He also had 17 home runs, 18 doubles, 65 RBIs and eight stolen bases. He finished third on the team with 40 walks. 

He was rewarded in 2023 for his efforts by being named a member of the All-SEC First Team, named a Perfect Game Second Team All-American, and a Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist, the award for college baseball’s best catcher. 

Heading into this season, the Gamecocks anticipated a strong hitting staff, and Messina, along with Petry, were recognized as preseason All-Americans. 

“I think our hitting is pretty well established,” head baseball coach Mark Kingston said. “When you have two All-Americans returning, when you have a 19-home-run guy returning and you have a lot of other really good hitters back. They're a year stronger, a year better. I think it's pretty safe to say our offense is going to be really good.” 

Messina hit his first home run of the season in a midweek game against Queens University on Feb. 21. 

Messina has led the Gamecocks on offense multiple times since the start of the season. In a midweek game against Georgia State, he made it on base three times, with two being singles. Against USC Upstate, Messina had four hits. 

“You're getting a guy that brings it all to the table, offense, defense, leadership,” Kingston said. “He bleeds garnet and black and (is) everything you ever could hope for in a catcher.”

In the third game of the season's first series against Belmont, Messina had a productive day and hit two two-run home runs in the fourth and eighth innings, respectively.

"When we're getting on base, when Moose (Messina) is swinging it like that, when Petry is swinging it like that, that's when our offense is at full capacity,” Kingston said. 

Since his hot start, Messina has encountered some hitting roadblocks. He's had just nine hits in 42 at-bats across 11 games. He also went hitless in the team’s first SEC series of the season against Ole Miss.

“Coaches, players, support staff, everyone had my back through the little rough patch I had,” Messina said.

As of March 19, Messina has had 17 hits, three home runs, 11 runs batted in, and five walks over his last 10 games and has had a .300 batting average in five of those games.

 "Those are all-Americans," junior outfielder Kennedy Jones said. "When you see those guys going well, it just kind of just brightens up the dugout, brings a little more confidence. I just think when they're good, everything's good.”


Messina and South Carolina’s next game is on Tuesday, April 9, against North Carolina. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Truist Field In Charlotte, North Carolina, and the game will be streamed on ACCNX. 


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