Former Troy softball player has been signed to play with NCAA program

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published September 15, 2015

 Former Troy softball player Ashley Messina has signed on to play with Wayne State University.

Former Troy softball player Ashley Messina has signed on to play with Wayne State University.

Photo provided by Wayne State University athletics

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Former Troy softball player Ashley Messina, who was a four-year starter for the Colts, said she used to talk about taking her game to the collegiate level with her dad.

While she said it was a goal to make it that far, after being transitioned from an infielder to a catcher in high school, she didn’t know if she was going to be “good enough” to get there.

As it turned out, Messina was good enough to fulfill her dream, as she signed on to play with Wayne State University last November.

“I am very excited,” she said. “I never imagined that I would ever be playing at a level this high when I first started playing. It’s really cool to see that all the hard work and training paid off.”

The opportunity she received was no surprise to Tom Calnen, who was her coach at Troy.

“Ashley was a four-year starter for me,” he said. “She was a middle infielder converted to a catcher, which is not easy. Had just tremendous success from the beginning, which is why she’s at Wayne now. Probably the thing that is the best attribute about Ashley is her work ethic. From that standpoint, it’s probably what drives her to be the type of student-athlete that she is. For me, Ashley is in that elite group of kids to ever wear a Troy uniform. That’s pretty lofty with what we’ve had come through.

“I’m not surprised at all, but she worked tirelessly to achieve the things she did. She was a kid who not only led by verbally helping teammates and trying to support them, but she also did it by example.”

Wayne State softball coach Gary Bryce, who is in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame and is 14th on the NCAA all-time wins list, concluded his 34th season with the program last spring. Wayne State has made it as far as the NCAA Division II College World Series three times during his tenure. The opportunity to play for him, as well as assistant coach Pat Kent, is part of what Messina is most looking forward to about suiting up for the Warriors.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning a lot from coach Gary and coach Pat,” she said. “Looking forward to learning a lot from them, having fun while playing the game, and while doing it, learning life lessons.”

While Messina is looking forward to her opportunity to learn some life lessons at Wayne State, she has already learned at least one that she can take with her on the very first day she steps onto a collegiate field.

“I’ve learned that no matter how hard you think something can be, as long as you put your mind to it, you can accomplish it,” she said. “Like me not thinking that I could play college ball. Putting my mind to it, putting in the work, and now here I am.”

As excited as Messina is to play for Wayne State, she also took time to discuss her favorite aspects of playing for Troy.

“Being with the team and playing for coach Tom,” she said. “I’ve known him for most of my life. I grew up in Troy, so watching all the older girls, like Jordan Wheatley and Kate Dunn ...  very cool for me being part of that program. It’s a great program.”

While the transition from high school to collegiate athletics can present challenges, Messina expressed confidence that her time with Troy has adequately prepared her for the next step in her journey as a softball player.

“Tom trained us to be where I need to be right now, I think,” she said. “He prepared us for a lot. Put us through drills and practices that, I believe, prepared me for where I am now.”

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