Glencoe seniors sign scholarships


Photo: Glencoe seniors Emma Croy, Abi Bunt, Austin Mann and Brady Kitchens (pictured from left) gather for a photo after signing college scholarships in April 24. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger) 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Four Glencoe High School seniors recently reaped the rewards of their hard work in the classroom and on the athletic field.
On Wednesday, April 24, Emma Croy and Abi Bunt signed softball scholarships, while Brady Kitchens and Austin Mann will play baseball at the next level.
Bunt, who committed to UT-Chattanooga in November, currently has 34 career home runs, believed to be a school record. After missing most of her sophomore softball season due to a shoulder injury, Bunt finished the 2023 season with a .490 batting average, a .534 on-base percentage and a 1.077 slugging percentage while belting 51 hits (including 13 home runs, 16 doubles and three triples), 58 runs scored and 44 RBI while striking out only twice. She stole 18 bases out of 21 attempts. Her production helped the Lady Yellow Jackets win 24 games, capture an area tournament title and finish a game shy of a state tournament berth.
Bunt was the 2023 All-Messenger softball team’s Player of the Year and made the ASWA All-State Class 3A first team at the utility position. She also participated in the 2023 AHSAA North/South All-Star Game in Montgomery. In addition, she and Croy helped the school’s volleyball team qualify for the program’s first Elite Eight berth in seven years.
“This is something that I’ve been working for since I was four years old, so it feels great to finally be there with all the help from my parents and all the hard work I’ve put in,” said Bunt. “I was coming off surgery when I was going through the recruiting process, and a lot of people counted me out. But I loved the UT campus the first time I went up there and I could tell that the coaches believed in me.”
Croy, who signed with Gadsden State, is a four-year starterin the outfield for the Lady Yellow Jackets, was named to the All-Etowah County Schools team in 2022 and 2023. She was selected to the All-Messenger softball first team in 2023 after finishing with a .491 batting average; a .591 on-base percentage, a .728 slugging percentage, 51 hits with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs, 52 runs scored, 41 RBI and 31 steals. For her career, she currently has a .386 batting average, 82 RBI, 71 runs scored and 52 steals.
“I’m very thankful and blessed that I’m here today,” said Croy. “It’s a little scary but I’m also excited, because I think I’m ready for the next level. I hope we can start something special, and I’m ready to go out there and play and have fun.”
“These two girls are great examples of how a lot of hard work can go a long way,” said Glencoe head softball coach Taylor Talbot. “Not just playing softball during the spring season but playing year-round to get better and better. If you work as hard as these two young ladies do, there is a future out there for you in whatever it may be, whether it’s sports or your chosen profession.”
Kitchens, who signed with Gadsden State, went 7-2 this past season for a Glencoe team that went 16-18 and made the state playoffs for the first time since 2019. He finished with an earned run average of 2.73 along with 84 strikeouts. He fanned 16 batters in a game against Ohatchee this past season to set a career high. Kitchens was named to the 2023 All-Etowah County Schools and All-Area teams and competed in the East-West All-Star Tournament. He has a career pitching record of 13-7-4. In 163 innings, Kitchens threw a total of 2,063 pitches with a career ERA of 3.27 with 162 strikeouts.
“This is definitely an opportunity that I grew up wishing to have,” said Kitchens. “It’s really a dream come true. It’s also good that I’ll be close to home and can put my focus into baseball and not worry about finances and having a place to stay. I think that me and [Gadsden State] coach [Blake] Lewis will have a really good relationship, and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to go to the next level and two years at a junior college.”
Mann, who signed with Marion Military, finished the season with a 6-4-2 record with an ERA of 3.94 with 50 strikeouts. For his career, He has an 11-9-6 record with 2,012 pitches thrown and a 3.36 ERA and 114 strikeouts.
“Before my sophomore year, I decided to work 10 times harder than I did in my freshman year,” said Mann, who intends to study occupational therapy. “When I was a junior, I worked 10 times harder than that. Going into this year, I knew that [a scholarship] had to happen, and here I am. I have family in the military, and I thought about going into the military [after high school]. With Marion being military school, I can get the best of both worlds.”
“Both of these guys have had great careers, and I want to congratulate them on their accomplishments,” said GHS head baseball coach Dillon Terry. “They really stepped up as leaders over the last two years, especially in the mound, and were a huge part of our success this season. Along with their fellow seniors, they definitely raised the bar for Glencoe baseball. It’s been an honor to coach them.”

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