Most people have heard the saying the apple does not fall far from the tree. When it comes to UT softball junior Melissa Brown’s family, it happens to be apples.

“My dad was the athletic one; he played basketball, football and baseball and all that,” Brown said. “He went to a junior college and played there. My mom is more pageantry, so definitely, I think I get it from my dad’s side.”

However, Brown was not the only one to follow in the footsteps of her father, Douglas.

Brown’s twin brother, Trevor, is  a junior catcher on No. 8 UCLA’s baseball team. Brown said growing up with Trevor did more than just provide friendly competition.

“It was great,” she said. “It was great playing with (Trevor) and it was competitive all the time. It definitely made us both better. We used to, at first, tease each other and say, ‘Come on you could do better,’ but as we got older it’s fun to just see each other play. But it’s been more than just fun. Sure we tease each other, but he definitely pushed me to be the best I could be and taught me to never stop working.”

With help from her brother, the Valencia, Calif. native has been striving to earn a starting role in the Lady Vols’ lineup since she arrived on campus. Playing in 31 games with 29 starts this season, Brown has reached her goal and then some.

“The past two years my goal has been to earn a starting spot,” Brown said. “At this point, now that I’ve done this, I’m not sure, I guess I’d want to hit for a career .300 or something above that, I guess, if were talking numbers. For now, I just want to hit the ball hard. If I hit the ball hard each at-bat, I’d be more than happy.”

Since nabbing a starting spot, Brown has never looked back, coming up clutch for the Lady Vols early on this season, most notably against then-No. 1 Alabama.

In March, Brown and the Lady Vols faced the daunting task of traveling to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide and its nation-best 26-game winning streak.

Still scoreless in the second inning, Brown trotted towards the batter’s box in an at-bat that would change the tone of the entire game.

Brown fell behind early in the count, taking two straight strikes. After battling off the next 12 pitches, Brown turned on a rising fastball, blasting a three-run home run that rattled off the left field fair pole to give Tennessee a lead it would never surrender.

“It was a great moment for (Brown) and the team and really everyone,” said UT co-head coach Ralph Weekly. “It’s always great to see a great girl like Melissa do well and have hard work pay off.”

With that said, Brown’s personal memories like her Alabama homer take a back seat to the bigger picture.

“You see, it’s really not about personal stuff,” she said. “We obviously we want to get to the (Women’s College) World Series and be a national championship team and win the SEC.”

Brown, who is currently hitting .303 with five doubles, five home runs and 18 RBIs, is helping the team do just that.

“I mean, I have my goals and the team has their goals,” Brown said. “Yeah, we have goals to beat certain teams, and do certain things in certain games, but we just come out here and try to win every game.

“At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, winning and doing our best to go to the World Series. I think we have the team and heart to do it.”