After leading the Wichita State softball team to arguably its best season in program history, coach Kristi Bredbenner was awarded with a five-year contract extension with an annual salary of $120,000 through the 2023 season on Friday.
Bredbenner, who has a 202-181 record in seven seasons, has led WSU to many program-firsts in her tenure. The Shockers reached their first NCAA regional championship last season, won their first NCAA regional game in 2016, and won their first regular-season conference championship in 2014.
“Wichita State is a great place to be, and it’s a very, very difficult place to walk away from,” Bredbenner said. “When you get in and you’re invested and the athletic department is invested in you, you feel like it’s something special. There are so many positives about Wichita State and the growth not just in athletics, but in the whole university.”
For Boatright, it was a no-brainer to lock up Bredbenner on a long-term basis.
“We are proud of the program Kristi has built here at Wichita State,” Boatright said in a statement. “She represents everything we look for in a coach and has continually brought in student-athletes who share the same high character principles both on and off the field.”
The long-term stability is a bonus for Bredbenner.
“I think any coach will tell you that it’s definitely a better feeling when you know you’re going to be around for a few years to keep building,” Bredbenner said. “I think Darron and (WSU senior associate athletic director) Becky (Endicott) both have always shown a desire to support softball. It’s a testament to the type of athletic department we have and it shows they have a true commitment to a high level of softball here.”
WSU finished 32-23 last season with a 12-9 record in AAC play, although it was in contention for the league title on the final day of the regular season. The Shockers received an at-large bid to a NCAA regional and advanced to the championship game, where it lost 6-4 at Arkansas.
The Shockers have high expectations with six starters returning and their entire pitching staff back for the 2019 season. The team will play an eight-game fall schedule beginning Sept. 22, which includes games against Oklahoma State (Sept. 26) and at Kansas (Oct. 12).
“One of our main focuses this offseason has been improving in American Conference play,” Bredbenner said. “We need to improve in our conference and have some consistency. It seems like in the past we’ve always struggled putting two good seasons together. We know we have the ability to have success and we want to be playing for something bigger this season.”