South Carolina Baseball: Heart and soul of the Gamecocks up for major award

South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina is a semifinalist for the Buster Posey Award, given out annually to the nation's top catcher.
South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina
South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

There is not a player alive hotter than Cole Messina. The "heart and soul" of the South Carolina baseball team according to head coach Mark Kingston, Messina has already made multiple All-SEC teams and is an All-American candidate again in 2024 after making several All-American squads last spring, and he is finishing this year with a strong push.

At the SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks needed a win (or two) to secure their place in Regional play next week, and Messina has made sure that happens. In two games against the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks (both of which won two of three games against Carolina earlier this season), Messina is 6-8 with 3 home runs and has reached base 8 times in 10 plate appearances.

"Moose" has been the best player on the field in those two games, and while he is much more concerned with how his strong play affects his team's chances of winning and advancing through the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament, it also has a positive effect on his chances to win some personal accolades.

Shortly before first pitch against Arkansas on Wednesday, it was announced that Cole Messina was a semifinalist for the Buster Posey Award, the national award given to the best catcher in college baseball. Formerly known as the Johnny Bench Award (named after Hall of Fame backstop Johnny Bench), the Buster Posey Award is named after former Golden Spikes award-winner Buster Posey who transitioned from being a star for the Florida State Seminoles to being an MVP in Major League Baseball. The name was changed as Bench never went to college.

As a semifinalist, Messina is one of just sixteen catchers eligible to receive the Buster Posey Award. That list will be trimmed down to just three in two weeks. Messina was a semifinalist in 2023 but was not a finalist.

Messina and his South Carolina baseball team will take on the LSU Tigers on Thursday in the winner's bracket of the SEC Tournament.

This year, Messina is a Buster Posey Award semifinalist alongside 15 other talented catchers, who are all listed below:

Ethan Anderson, Virginia Cavaliers
Ariel Armas, San Diego Toreros
Burke Camper, Utah Valley Wolverines
Ryan Campos, Arizona State Sun Devils
Josh Caron, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Connor Caskenette, Purdue Boilermakers
Jacob Cozart, NC State Wolfpack
Mac Guscette, Alabama Crimson Tide
Brandon Heidal, Oakland Golden Grizzlies
Ike Irish, Auburn Tigers
Walker Janek, Sam Houston State Bearkats
Caleb Lomavita, California Golden Bears
Malcolm Moore, Stanford Cardinal
Ryan Stafford, Cal Poly Mustangs
Alex Stone, Duke Blue Devils

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