Mealer Is The Real Deal(er) 

Photo by Emma Corona/Tennessee Athletics

By Devin Hoke

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Lady Volunteers who are currently ranked #9 seem to be putting their season back on track. After suffering close losses early in the year to fellow powerhouses Texas and Stanford, the Lady Vols got a close win earlier this week on the road against #11 Clemson.

That big victory sets up the beginnings of the “Tennessee Classic” that occurred today. The Lady Volunteers played a double header against Missouri State and South Dakota in that order and then the next game will be against Ohio State tomorrow. 

Tennessee dominated Missouri State 16-0 (F/5) but there were a few things of note. The only Lady Bears player that was able to get a hit (and she got a couple) was the leadoff batter Abby Ford up against Tennessee ace Payton Gottshall, but the rest of the Bears team was unproductive.

Laura Mealer, a junior from Chapel Hill Tennessee that transferred from the MTSU Blue Raiders, had three home runs in her three at bats that gave her 5 total RBIs in this game (both are new career highs). She is the first Lady Vol since 2013 to hit three home runs in one game, the last Lady Vol to accomplish this feat was Lauren Gibson against Ole Miss on April 20th, 2013. More on Laura’s day as a whole in just a bit but staying with the MO State game; Kiki Milloy and Payton Gottshall both had great performances as well. Milloy had four runs and three hits on four at bats and Gottshall only allowed two hits (both to Ford) and had five strikeouts. 

Tennessee had a tougher test against South Dakota, but the Volunteers still pulled out a 6-0 win over the Coyotes. I mentioned earlier that I would bring up Mealer again. South Dakota was still within striking distance heading into the bottom of the fifth inning only down 3-0 when Mealer hit her fourth home run of the day and fifth overall for the season. The other big story of the game was Karlyn Pickens’ dominant performance in the circle. Pickens had arguably her best game of the season by only allowing one hit and had thirteen strikeouts through all seven innings. 

When asking Karen Weekly about how Mealer was able to break out today the head coach said “her mindset changed” and she also said the player felt better as the week went on leading up to tonight.

Coach Weekly was also asked about the upcoming matchup with Ohio State tomorrow at 12:30 back in Sherri Parker Lee Stadium and the Weekly said, “they are a really good team, we saw it today”.

The Buckeyes defeated Missouri State and South Dakota as well but both performances were not as dominant as Tennessee’s (they beat MO State 6-2 and then South Dakota 6-3). Ohio State should still be a tougher challenge considering they are coming from a major conference in the Big 10 and won their games but no doubt Tennessee will be favored and should be expected to get their ninth win in a row tomorrow.