Mealer hits go-ahead homer as Tennessee rallies past Alabama 3-2 in Knoxville Super Regional opener

Published May. 24, 2024 7:08 p.m. ET

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Laura Mealer hit a two-out, two-run homer to cap a three-run fifth inning and No. 3 seed Tennessee rallied to beat 14th-seeded Alabama 3-2 in the opener of the Knoxville Super Regional on Friday.

Tennessee (44-10) can finish off a sweep of Alabama (36-18) on Saturday in the second game of the best-of-three series. An Alabama victory would force a deciding game on Sunday.

The Volunteers are aiming for their second straight appearance in the Women's College World Series and their ninth overall. The Crimson Tide have played in 18 of 19 super regionals since the current format was adopted in 2005, winning 12 of them.

All three Tennessee runs were unearned. Rylie West led off the fifth with a walk and stole second. Alabama starter Kayla Beaver retired the next two batters, but Gabby Leach pinch hit and reached base on an error by second baseman Kali Heivilin allowing West to score. Mealer, the No. 9 batter, followed with a home run to center field on a 0-1 pitch, ending Beaver's day.


The Crimson Tide grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Kristen White singled and moved to third when the ball got past West in left field for a two-base error. White scored on a wild pitch from starter Karlyn Pickens.

Alabama, which outhit the Volunteers 6-3, scored another run in the second. Marlie Giles was hit by a pitch leading off, took second on a ground out and scored on a two-out single from Riley Valentine.

Pickens pitched five innings, running her record to 22-6 on the season. She allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits and a walk while striking out seven. Payton Gottshall got the final six outs for her third save of the season, yielding two hits with two strikeouts.

Beaver (17-9) took the loss for Alabama. She allowed three unearned runs in 4 2/3 innings on two hits and a walk.


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