Stand out Longhorn Abby Cornett hit over 400 in the 2019 season and her coaches expected great things of her again this year, before the softball season was cancelled.Photos by Joey Icenhour
By Tim Chambers
When the announcement was made that school would be closed for the remainder of the year, it signaled the end of senior standout Abby Cornett’s sports career as a Lady Longhorn at Johnson County High School. It was the dreaded news that she had hoped not to hear.
“We never dreamed that our senior year would end up like this because we were expecting to do some big things in softball,” said Cornett. “We had already proven that we could hold our own with any of them in basketball, and I know we had the best softball team. I was hurt because it meant never being able to wear a Lady Longhorn uniform ever again. We are not bitter because we understand the situation, but it doesn’t take away the hurt we seniors have.”
Cornett is one of many senior athletes across the state that had her high school athletic career cut short. She has the athleticism to play at the college level but pretty much knows without a senior season to prove her value that it will not become a reality.
“She’s one of the best kids that I’ve ever coached,” said head softball coach Greg Reece. “She gives it her all and produces wherever you put her. Cornett hit over 400 for us last year, so we were expecting great things from her again. She sure can cover a lot of ground as a centerfielder with all her speed and athleticism. I loved having Abby on my team.”
Cornett has a love for her coaches as well. She mentioned Kechia Eller, Emily Harrison, and Michelle Walters as having a big impact on her being where she is. She also praised the works of Leon Tolley, Garry Smith, and Greg Reece for molded her into the player that she became.
“I’ve had the greatest coaches that anyone could have had,” said Cornett. I owe a lot to all those that I’ve mentioned and especially to my mom, Chelsey Cornett. She is the best mom that anyone could ever ask for.”
Cornett said the hardest part about being out of school was not getting to see her friends and filling in the void of no after-school sports.
“I miss seeing my friends every day and my teachers and coaches. It’s weird not having to go to practice. I’ve been looking to get a job. We don’t know what to do with ourselves. It’s hard to find something to do to take the place of that.”
Cornett didn’t hesitate when talking about her most memorable moments as a Lady Longhorn.
“It definitely was making the Regional in basketball,” she said. “I wish we could have gone a little farther, but it meant a lot to get there because of all the hard work our coaches and players had put in. No team up here had done it in more than 20 years.”
Cornett was the prized sixth man for the basketball team and a key performer on the softball diamond. She liked her role of coming off the bench in basketball.
“It’s pretty pressured being first off the bench because it depended on how I started as to how the game was going to go,” said Cornett. “I was really comfortable with it the more that I grew into it. I just tried to come in and get us fired up.”
She said that beating East was her high mark in softball.
“We knew they had beaten Unicoi County a few days earlier, so we wanted to show everyone that we were for real. We went over there and got them at their place. I think that spoke volumes about the season we were going to have.”
Cornett is planning on going to college and major in the field of criminal justice.
When asked about her one regret that didn’t get finished, Cornett added, “I just knew that we were going to the state tournament in softball. We were undefeated, and we planned on keeping it that way. I honestly believe that we had the team that could go all the way. We just needed that final chance to prove it.”