Photo: Glencoe High senior Abi Bunt signed a softball scholarship with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Nov. 9. Pictured, from left: sister Gracyn, mom Dawn, Abi, dad Shane. (Submitted photo)
By Chris McCarthy,, Publisher/Editor
It’s been quite a 2023-24 academic year so far for Abi Bunt.
The Glencoe High senior was named Homecoming Queen in September, helped the school’s volleyball team qualify for the program’s first Elite Eight berth in seven years and recently secured her academic and athletic future.
On November 9 at the George Wallace Senior Center, Bunt signed a letter of intent to play softball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Bunt said she realized the UT-Chattanooga campus was a “special place” during her official visit earlier this year.
“The more I saw [of the campus], the more it felt like home,” she said. “The (UTC) coaches welcomed me with open arms and treated me like family since day one. They believed in me during one of the hardest parts of my life, when many other (college programs) just wrote me off. They continue to show they care about me and want me to succeed on and off the field, which is extremely important to me. Also, being close enough to home so that my family can easily come watch games was huge for me.
“I’m extremely grateful for all of my coaches who have been along the way with me since I was four years old until now. I wouldn’t be in the place I am now if it wasn’t for them. I want to thank my parents for every sacrifice they made, every penny they spent and every minute they took trying to make my dream come true. I’m also thankful for the older players that I’ve looked up to since I was little, and I hope that I can do at least half of what they did for me for a younger player. I will forever be grateful for the community behind me and everyone that has supported me along the way.”
After missing most of her sophomore softball season due to a shoulder injury, Bunt returned with a vengeance her junior year. In 42 games, mostly at catcher, Bunt finished 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 was also a force on the basepaths with 18 steals out of 21 attempts. Her stellar production helped the Lady Yellow Jackets win 24 games, capture an area tournament title and finish a game shy of a state tournament berth. Piedmont edged Glencoe, 2-0 in the East Regional play-back bracket finals.
Bunt was the 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 AHSAA North/South All-Star Game this past summer in Montgomery.
“Abi is obviously a really talented softball player,” said Glencoe head softball coach Taylor Talbot. “But my favorite thing about coaching her is she is a high character kid. She’s a low-maintenance player who doesn’t need motivated to work hard, and that’s a rarity in coaching today.
“Abi is a quiet kid to an extent, but her work ethic and competitiveness really set her apart. I’ve been very fortunate to coach a lot of players who worked very hard or hated to lose, but Abi is without a doubt the most competitive kid I’ve coached. Whatever the drill is and whatever the game is, she is going to work until she masters it.
“That work ethic, I believe has made a huge difference in so many of our players. They see the way Abi works and have joined in her efforts, which has had a huge effect on our program. Little girls growing up in Glencoe want to be a softball player, and a whole lot of them want to be Abi Bunt and wear her No. 1 on their back. For the young girls in our town, the world stops when Abi spends time with them, and that’s a great testament to the kind of young lady and player that Abi is.”