Cherokee’s Karly Messina looked rattled in the dugout. The sophomore pitcher had just come off an inning in which she allowed Lenape to score three runs.
With the score book in hand, junior rightfielder Anna Messina gave her sister a pep talk before she led off the top half of the next inning.
“‘Hey, we’re only down by three runs. Let’s go!’” Cherokee coach Mary Madgey said Anna told her sister.
Anna Messina then smacked a hit into the outfield to lead off the inning, which helped Cherokee beat Lenape, 12-7, on April 11.
“We can always rely on her to get a hit every time,” Karly Messina said. “She always goes up there with confidence and gets on base, no matter what.”
The Messina sisters have helped Cherokee get off to a 6-1 start this season. The Chiefs are in first place in the South Jersey Group 4 Olympic American standings.
Karly Messina has 6-1 record in the circle and is batting .600, while Anna is batting .321 with four RBIs and seven runs.
“When we get them on, we do really well in games,” Madgey said. “That’s what we’re looking to do moving forward is to keep the momentum at the top of the lineup.”
The Messina sisters don’t stop helping each other after their games. They break down every at-bat once they get home to Marlton and they also have batting practice, but it’s not outdoors. They hit balls into a net in the basement.
Anna Messina said the two are constantly working to polish their footwork at the plate like their hitting coach, Meredith McCarthy, who’s also the Rutgers-Camden softball coach, instructs them to do on a weekly basis.
The sisters started playing softball together on recreational teams like the Marlton Thunder. They grew up watching their sister Laura pitch for Camden Catholic. A former player at Central Connecticut State, Laura Messina is now an assistant coach at Fordham University.
The two Cherokee players text or FaceTime Laura Messina after every game for advice.
“It was so important watching my big sister play growing up because she was also a pitcher,” Karly Messina said. “I loved watching her pitch and it made me want to become a better pitcher.”