Tracy Bunge Born: February 29, 1964 (Red Bank, NJ)
Graduated: Bartlesville (OK) Sooner High School, 1982; University of Kansas, 1986
You will be hard pressed to find someone who epitomizes the University of Kansas softball program more than Bartlesville, Oklahoma, native Tracy Bunge. As of 2015, the Jayhawks have competed in thirty-six official seasons of softball since records were first kept in 1979. Bunge played a major role in seventeen of those thirty-six seasons as a four year player and as the head coach of the program for another thirteen seasons. And Bunge’s longevity in the program is only rivaled by her success on the field and in the coach’s box.
As a standout high school athlete for Bartlesville’s Sooner High School, Bunge helped lead her high school softball, basketball, and tennis teams, to state tournament finishes during her high school career, including the 1980 Oklahoma Softball Championship. That talent and leadership caught the eye of former University of Kansas coach Bob Stanclift and Bunge signed to play for the Jayhawks following her senior year in 1982.
Her impact on the Jayhawk softball program was immediate. During her freshman season of 1983, Bunge led the team in hits, triples, home runs, runs batted in, pitching appearances, pitching wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, earned run average, and saves. Bunge was named to the Big 8 Tournament Team and was a first-team NCAA All-Region selection.
As a sophomore and junior, Bunge once again led the team in many offensive and pitching statistics on her way to earning first-team All-Big 8 honors and first-team NCAA All-Region selections both years.
However, Bunge saved her best season for last. During her senior year in Lawrence, Bunge dominated the stats, setting school single season records for homeruns with nine, earned run average with a 0.55, and shutouts with fifteen. Bunge was again named a first-team All-Big 8 selection, an All-Big 8 Tournament selection, a first-team NCAA All-Region selection, and was selected as a first-team All-American.
For her career, Bunge set both offensive and pitching school records that are still reflected in the record book today. Upon leaving KU, Bunge held the top career marks for triples, runs scored, walks, slugging percentage, pitching appearances, strikeouts, innings pitched, pitching wins, earned run average, shutouts, and complete games. Today, nearly thirty years after her playing career ended, Bunge still ranks in the top ten in many of those categories.
The next chapter of her softball career began as Bunge transitioned from the batter’s box to the coach’s box following her senior season in Lawrence. After serving as an assistant coach at Iowa State University from 1987 to 1991 and at Yale for the 1992 and 1993 seasons, Bunge was named the head coach at Ohio University in 1994. Over the next three seasons, Bunge led the Bobcats to a combined record of 92-67, including a Mid-American Conference championship and a NCAA Tournament berth in 1995, the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Bunge’s homecoming to Lawrence came in 1997 as she was named the seventh head coach of the Jayhawk softball program. For the next thirteen seasons, Bunge led the Jayhawks to unprecedented heights as KU made the NCAA tournament five times, made one Super Regional appearance, and won the Big XII Conference Tournament in 2008.
During her thirteen years at the helm, Bunge compiled a record of 407-347-2 making her the all-time winningest coach in KU softball history. She led her players to one first-team All-American selection, two second-team All-American selections, and a combined 40 All-Big 12 first and second-team selections.
Bunge retired from the University of Kansas following the 2009 season, but is still active in the game through her affiliations with the Dutch National Team and her private coaching business based out of Lawrence.
Today, Bunge is honored as a person who brought pride upon her school, community and the entire state of Kansas through her accomplishments as a player and coach for the University of Kansas softball program.