TUSCULUM — There’s not much Kaleb Meredith hasn’t done on either the basketball court or the baseball diamond in the last four years for University High.
On Sunday afternoon, the hard work finally paid off as Meredith made it official and signed a scholarship to play baseball for the University of Tennessee.
“It’s really hard to turn down your ‘hometown’ team that everybody loves,” Meredith said. “With the culture of winning that they have and the way they do things, it felt like a family as soon as I stepped on campus.”
Meredith — a left-handed pitcher with extraordinary command of his fastball — had been committed to the Vols since his sophomore season, but the recent success of the baseball program made the decision that much easier.
“I’ve met (Tennessee baseball coach) Tony Vitello multiple times and he and I will text back and forth,” Meredith said. “I’ve met a few of the guys on the team and they’re all great people.
“They all want to win baseball games down there, and that’s the culture that they’ve built.”
Meredith is hitting over .420 in his senior season and leads all of Northeast Tennessee in wins on the pitcher’s mound.
He is also among the top 10 in strikeouts.
“When Kaleb pitches, it makes me look very smart,” UH coach Josh Petty said. “He consistently hits the strike zone and he has three pitches he can throw for strikes.
“He’s come along this year in hitting, too. He’s been batting leadoff all year and he’s batting around .400. Kaleb has a very high ceiling and when he gets down there with their throwing program and weight program, he’ll get better.”
Meredith is trying to help the Bucs to a third trip to the state tournament and will be the starting pitcher today as UH travels to Greenback for a Region 1-A elimination game.
On the basketball court, he’s equally as impressive.
Meredith is a two-time TSWA all-state selection and is Northeast Tennessee’s fourth all-time leading scorer, finishing his career with 2,687 points.
In his senior season, he averaged over 27 points per contest before the Bucs were bounced in the first round of the district tournament.
Meredith also holds the single-game record for University High, tallying an impressive 49 points at Tennessee High early in the season.
“My career in everything has been a blessing,” Meredith said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the stats of over 2,600 points, but none of that happens without great teammates, coaches and family to support me through it all.
“I’ve loved every minute of it. I love everybody at UH and I owe so much to so many people.”
Meredith also isn’t too shabby in the classroom, navigating a tough curriculum at UH with a 3.8 GPA and scoring 30 on the ACT.
“You’ll be really hard-pressed to find a lefty that can throw in the mid-80s and when you do find one, you try to get as much out of him as you can,” Petty said. “Kaleb will work hard for Tennessee on the field as well as in the classroom. He’ll be great for them.”