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Baseball  . 

Messina in the Hunt for More in 2024

by Brad Muller

Family, hunting, and baseball are a big part of Cole Messina’s life. When he’s not out hunting deer, South Carolina’s junior catcher is doing everything he can to build on last year’s breakthrough season in which he earned First Team All-SEC and Second Team All-America honors while batting .307 with 17 home runs and 65 RBI. Now, he and his teammates are in the hunt to try to get to Omaha for the College World Series after reaching the Super Regionals last year.

“That’s the only other thing I like to do; to hunt,” said Messina, who is studying criminal justice and is interested in becoming a game warden whenever his baseball career is over. “A lot of time and effort goes into hunting. It takes patience to do it consistently, and I like the feeling of success and gratitude you get when you get to harvest an animal. I think it’s identical to baseball. You put a lot of time in, and you see the success from it.

“Everyone got the experience in the postseason last year and got a taste for what it’s like. It’s just pushing everyone to show up every day and bust your tail.”

Messina played only sparingly as a freshman in 2022, but hard work and patience paid off in his sophomore season.

“I think it was the mental side of the game,” Messina said. “I learned a lot after my freshman year. I had the chance to witness what a full SEC schedule looks like.

“My strengths are my leadership abilities and just showing up every day and being the same person. As a whole, I want to keep getting better at the catching position.”

Cole Messina 2023
“It’s more about team goals. I think if we make it to Omaha like we all want to, then the personal goals will take care of themselves.”
Cole Messina  . 

As for family, his brother Carson is a pitcher who signed to play for South Carolina next year if he doesn’t play professional baseball, and the elder Messina, who will probably be a day two selection in the MLB draft, is excited about the possibility of catching his younger sibling at South Carolina if they’re not playing pro baseball.

“That means the world to me,” Messina said. “You grow up wanting to play college baseball and to come to your dream school. It would be really cool to have a chance to play with my younger brother. Not a lot of people can say they’ve done that. I think it would mean even more to my parents. We’re three years apart. We played together one year in high school. I’ve caught him and faced him. Catching him is fun because I can get on to him if I need to. I think he listens to me.

“We’re very competitive with each other. We compete in everything. It doesn’t matter if we’re working out, cleaning the dishes, or playing video games, we’ve always been competitive. We always will be.”

As he prepares for the upcoming season, Messina hopes to lead by example for his younger teammates.

“As an upperclassman, you do have to take on a leadership role, but I don’t think you change who you are and how you go about your business,” Messina said. “You show up to the ballpark every day with the same mindset and attitude, and it all falls into place.

“I don’t really look at personal goals. It’s more about team goals. I think if we make it to Omaha like we all want to, then the personal goals will take care of themselves.”

That journey gets underway when the Gamecocks open the 2024 season on Friday, February 16 against Miami (Ohio) at Founders Park.