Women's watch: Looking back at the best sports stories of 2019

Welcome to 2020! Before we get too far into the New Year, let's look back at 10 of the top stories in women's sports in 2019.

10. SOFTBALL NEAR MISS: The Chicago Bandits again made it to the NPF championship in August. But they were also foiled again by the USSSA Pride. The Pride, which boasts five league titles, has beaten the Bandits four times in the championship series. Meanwhile, the Bandits own four league titles, with the most recent coming in 2015 and 2016.

9. IRISH IRRITANT: In November, Notre Dame sent the world of women's college basketball into shock by dropping out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in 12 years. The Irish, who won the 2018 national title, had been in the poll for 234 consecutive weeks dating back to the 2007-08 season. That was the third-longest streak in the country behind Connecticut and Baylor.

8. BAYLOR'S FAVORITE OPPONENT: There's something about Notre Dame for the Baylor women's basketball team. In April, the Bears won their third national title, defeating Notre Dame, 82-81 in Tampa. It was Baylor's first title since 2012, which also came against Notre Dame.

7. RED STARS RUN: After years of just missing the pinnacle of the National Women's Soccer League playoffs, the Chicago Red Stars finally advanced to the championship game in October. But the North Carolina Courage blanked the Red Stars 4-0 for its second straight title. The Red Stars were led in 2019 by Sam Kerr, who was named the league's Most Valuable Player for the season after scoring a record 18 goals in just 21 games.

6. SLOOT DOES THE DISHES: It was another big summer for Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot. Not only was "Sloot" named to the WNBA all-star team, along with teammates Allie Quigley and Diamond DeShields, she also broke her own WNBA single-season records for assist average (9.1) and total assists (300).

5. WADE WINS IT: It was just his first year on the job. But Chicago Sky head coach James Wade made quite an impression. In September, Wade was named the 2019 WNBA Coach of the Year. He became the first Chicago coach to earn the honor in the franchise's 14-year history. Wade guided the Sky to a 20-14 record. The seven-win improvement from 2018 (13-21) was the third-best record ever in franchise history. The Sky's other two 20-win seasons came in 2013 (24-10) and 2015 (21-13).

4. EDD IS MVP: Former Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne made history in September. Now a forward with the Washington Mystics, Delle Donne was named the most valuable player of the WNBA. The seven-year veteran won her second MVP award, becoming the first player in WNBA history to earn the honor with two different teams. She ultimately led the Mystics to the WNBA title.

3. 700 CLUB: In December, two local coaching giants reached the 700-win mark.

Against Northwestern, DePaul women's basketball coach Doug Bruno earned his 700th win at DePaul. Weeks later, Northwestern women's basketball coach Joe McKeown got his 700th career win. Interestingly, Bruno and McKeown have been close friends for much of their 30-plus-year coaching careers.

2. FABULOUS FALL: What a fall for the Stanford athletic department on the women's side. In December, the Cardinal won both the NCAA women's volleyball national championship as well as the NCAA women's soccer title. The volleyball team swept Wisconsin (3-0) for its ninth national championship overall and its second straight. The soccer team slipped by North Carolina 5-4 in penalty kicks.

1. USA, USA: It was another successful World Cup for the U.S. Women's National team. In July, the Americans defeated the Netherlands in the World Cup final in France for their fourth title. There have been four winners of the Women's World Cup. The United States has four Cup championships, Germany has two, and Japan and Norway each have one. Megan Rapinoe, the flamboyant and vocal star for the Americans, was named FIFA's Women's Player of the Year after the World Cup championship.

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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