King, Mealer selected to TSWA All-State squad

Friday, June 30, 2017
Forrest’s Samantha King, who set a school record with 32 wins in the circle picked up her second big postseason award on Thursday when she was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s All-State Softball Team.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The 2016-2017 Forrest Lady Rockets came up one win short of claiming their third Class A state softball championship, but the runner-up finish did not overshadow an incredible season.

“When you get a chance to sit back and reflect on the season, you say ‘Oh Golly’,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said. “With all that youth, for us to accomplish what we did just shows what good character this team had and what you can do if you just believe it can be done.”

Forrest finished with a team record 41 wins against just six losses with two of the setbacks coming against defending state champion Meigs County in the winner’s bracket finals at the Spring Fling.

The Lady Rockets swept through the regular season with an undefeated District 9-A record and an unblemished district tournament run.

After a road loss to East Robertson in the Region 5-A title game, Forrest bounced back with a huge 4-0 win at Columbia Academy in the Class-A state sectionals to secure its 13th state tournament appearance in 16 years, including six years in row.

Cheatham, who was selected as the Mid-State Coach of the Year by the Tennessean said, “The team’s accomplishments are a testament to their belief in the tradition of Forrest softball and their willingness to maintain the work ethic needed to achieve the goals that we all set.”

Two of the players that were key parts in the Lady Rockets’ run to glory were selected to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s All-State Team on Thursday with Forrest’s lone senior Samantha King and eighth-grader Laura Mealer representing the state tournament runner-ups.

King was also selected to the Tennessean’s All Mid-State.

“They both deserve it and I am very happy and proud of them,” Cheatham said. “We have a lot of players that are deserving.”

King hit nine homeruns and batted .454 on the season, but it was in the circle where the Motlow State Community college signee shined the brightest, going a school record 32-2 for the Lady Rockets with 139 strikeouts and an impeccable .441 ERA.

“Samantha maintained the tradition here that was set in the past of mentoring the younger players and she did a great job of that,” Cheatham said. “All I can say about her is she is definitely a player that loves the game and is passionate about it.”

Eighth-grader Laura Mealer, who led the team in several offensive categories for the 41-6 Class A state runnerup Lady Rockets this season, is the only 8th grade player on any of the four Divisions in the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s All-State Softball Team.

Mealer is the first Forrest eighth-grader selected to the TSWA team and it was well-deserved for the Lady Rockets shortstop who had a .901 fielding percentage in her first season.

“Laura is another player who just has a passion for softball and she made a huge contribution offensively and defensively to the squad,” Cheatham said. “Laura can be as good as Laura wants to be if she continues to work hard and improve.”

“If she continues to do that I believe she has an excellent chance of playing Division I softball.”

Mealer led the team in batting average (.507), on base percentage (.543), slugging percentage (.889) and on-base percentage plus slugging percentage for the season (1.432).

Mealer had a team leading 18 doubles and finished second on the squad in runs batted in (40), hits (55), and home runs (7), while scoring 42 runs.

Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s All-State Softball Team

Class A

C: Sophie Dunavant, Jackson Christian, Jr.

IF: Madelyn Dycus, Goodpasture, Sr.

IF: Ashley Ellison, Grace Christian Academy, Sr.

IF: Ari Ramsaran, University School of Johnson City, Sr.

IF: Laura Mealer, Forrest, 8th grade

OF: Kristin Hunt, Grace Christian Academy, Jr.

OF: Kaci Fuller, Huntingdon, Fr.

OF: Tori Malone, Coalfield, Jr.

UT: Aubrey Reed, Meigs County, Jr.

P: Samantha King, Forrest, Sr.

P: Emily Harkleroad, Silverdale Baptist, Sr.*

P: Ashley Rogers, Meigs County, Jr.*

Class AA

C: Josie Willingham, Jackson South Side, So.

IF: Analeigh Coursey, Creek Wood, So.

IF: Kaitlyn Kelley, Lexington, Jr.

IF: Emma Webb, CAK, Sr.

IF: Caitlin Turner, Greenbrier, Sr.

OF: Jenna Johnson, Page, So.

OF: Taylor Hopper, Dyersburg, Sr.

OF: Bailey Griffith, Creek Wood, Jr.

UT: Lauren Brickey, Elizabethton, Jr.

P: Brooke Parrott, Chattanooga Central, Sr.

P: Alyssa Arden, White House-Heritage, Jr.*

P: Allison Zimmerman, CAK, Sr.*

Class AAA

C: McKenzie Henry, William Blount, Jr.

IF: Loryn Sherwood, Stewarts Creek, Jr.*

IF: Mia Edwardson, Science Hill, Jr.

IF: Leah Sohm, Gibbs, Sr.*

IF: Gracie Osbron, Henry County, Jr.

OF: Katie Rutledge, Coffee County, So.

OF: Jazmine Geary, Heritage, So.

OF: Delaney Smith, Rhea County, Sr.

UT: Hannah Koenig, Brentwood, Jr.

P: Allison Farr, Powell, So.

P: Emma Frost, Morristown East, So.

P: Kayla Boseman, Ooltewah, Sr.

Division II

C: Grace Spain, Davidson Academy, Sr.

IF: Riley Walker, Friendship Christian, Sr.

IF: Kallie Pickens, University School of Jackson, Jr.

IF: Cheyenne Lindsey, Baylor School, Jr.

IF: Regan Weekly, The King’s Academy, So.*

OF: Davis Smith, Davidson Academy, Sr.

OF: Haley Smith, GPS, Jr.

OF: Carlie Jamison, Father Ryan, Sr.

UT: Madison Webber, The King’s Academy, So.

P: Kaylan Cole, The King’s Academy, Fr.

P: Shelby Walters, GPS, Jr.

P: Alex Behnke, Donelson Christian Academy, So.

*2016 TSWA All-State honoree