Watch: Gamecocks baseball commit Cole Messina discusses breakout season
After a rough preseason, Cole Messina wasn’t sure what was in store for his sophomore year.
But the Summerville High catcher turned things around and put together one of the best power numbers in school history. Messina, a South Carolina baseball commit, leads the state with 11 homers (believed to be a school record) to go along with his .406 average and .792 slugging percentage. He also has swiped 11 bases while batting leadoff for the Green Wave.
Messina hit just one homer during his freshman year. He hit his 11th homer of the year Monday as the Green Wave won twice in defeating Chapin for the Class 5A District V championship. Summerville began the Lower State tournament Thursday with a 12-7 win over St. James.
“Preseason I had only two hits and it just flipped,” Messina last month. “It has been great ever since. I credit my dad, Randy Carlson at ECBA and coach Osterman my hitting coach. They have been working with me non-stop 24-7, seeing what I needed to get better at. It has been a great season and I’m very blessed in the stats I am putting up. I just got to keep helping my team as much as I can.”
Messina said he was lunging at the ball early in the season but kept working on that with a variety of drills. Summerville coach Bo Charpia credits Messina’s big power season on him being able to hit breaking pitches.
“Cole understands that there are parts of his game, both offensively and defensively, that need improving, but is one of those kids that loves to work and is always taking extra reps,” Charpia said. “He certainly has a bright future.”
And it is a future that involves playing for South Carolina down the road, which Messina calls his ‘dream school. He committed to the Gamecocks in July, just a few hours after being offered by USC coach Mark Kingston.
“Playing baseball for Carolina has always been a dream of mine and I want to stay close enough to home that my family can still be a part of my career,” Messina said after his commitment. “I really like the coaching staff and they’ve made me feel like I can really contribute to the program.”
Messina hopes to contribute not only with his bat but his defense behind the plate. After playing third base last season, he has been full-time catcher this season and made just two errors in 181 innings.
But Messina thinks there is another quality besides defense that helps him behind the plate.
“Personally, I don’t think I am the best behind the plate defensively,” he said. “But my leadership and being able to handle things keeps me going.”