Skyler Messinger’s collegiate career has been anything but normal, but the stars aligned during his final year in Division-I baseball.
After spending four seasons with the University of Kansas, he grasped onto the extra year of eligibility granted to NCAA athletes after COVID-19 rocked the 2020 season. He transferred to the University of Texas, only to come face-to-face with his old Jayhawk team during the regular season.
“I actually ended up hitting a go-ahead grand slam against KU at home this year with my family in attendance,” Messinger recalled from the May series. “That was just a very special moment. It felt kind of cosmic, playing the former team.”
Since the moment he graduated from Niwot in 2017, Messinger’s life has revolved around the diamond. The third baseman never relinquished his childhood aspirations of playing in the College World Series, and a pandemic awarded him the opportunity he otherwise wouldn’t have received with the Jayhawks.
He spoke with multiple other programs but ultimately landed with the Longhorns, another decision that seemed like it was always meant to be. Troy Tulowitzki, the Colorado Rockies’ all-star shortstop from 2006 to 2015, served as the team’s assistant coach.
Messinger and his brother, Connor, idolized “Tulo” growing up, often emulating his fielding skills. That mentorship in the last leg of his collegiate career proved invaluable.
“Obviously, he’s one of the best shortstops to ever play the game and just to be able to work with him all year was honestly unbelievable,” Messinger said. “I learned so much from him. I can’t say how much better he made me just being able to learn from him and hear from his mountain of experience he has on the game of baseball.”
Messinger assimilated well into his new digs and was instrumental to the Longhorns’ road to Omaha. He completed his final season with 59 RBI, 91 hits, 11 home runs and a .364 batting average as the Longhorns stampeded their way into the Austin Regional, the Greenville Super Regional and, eventually, the College World Series.
Texas ended up losing both of those CWS games, first to Notre Dame by a 7-3 score and then to Texas A&M by a 10-2 final, but Messinger couldn’t be more grateful for the experiences and people who helped him get there.
“Our team had really high expectations at the beginning of the year, and we had some key injuries and went through some tough stretches there,” he said. “I think those tough stretches really made it that much more rewarding to be able to punch that ticket to Omaha, just overcoming adversity and doing it on the road in a tough environment. It was just really cool and I was super proud of my team. It’s definitely a dream come true to go to Omaha.”
Now, Messinger feels optimistic as the MLB draft fast approaches on July 17. A 2017 22nd round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs (unsigned), Messinger hopes there’s still more baseball left to play and looks forward to seeing where else the road may take him.