Off the court, the Sky made progress in 2018. Boosted by a move to Wintrust Arena, the franchise experienced a record year of revenue as interest in the team rose after the shift back to the city.
But on the court, it was a struggle.
Despite a record-setting season from Courtney Vandersloot, the inexperienced Sky went 13-21 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year. In coach Amber Stocks’ second season, the Sky were only one game better than in 2017.
Principal owner Michael Alter wasn’t expecting the Sky to contend for a title, but he was looking for a little more. Two seasons removed from the decision to fire coach Pokey Chatman and the deal that cost Elena Delle Donne but brought the second overall pick in the 2017 draft (Alaina Coates), Stefanie Dolson and Kahleah Copper, the team earned another trip to the lottery.
“I didn’t expect we’d be in the championship, but I thought we’d be a [playoff] team and sort of on the climb-up,” Alter said. “We’re a little behind where I hoped we’d be, based on that. Last year was kind of what I expected with all the new parts. This year, I don’t feel like we moved forward from last year as much as I would’ve hoped.
“But, overall, I love what we have from that trade and the draft.”
As for Stocks, she’s under contract for next season. Alter said her performance will be evaluated in the next 30 to 60 days, but he added, “I want to make clear that’s something I always [do]” and not to read anything into that.
“That’s just the process I do every season with every coach all the time,” Alter said. “No different.”
The hope for Alter and the Sky is that 2019 will be different. Alter thinks the Sky are well positioned to be “very competitive for a long time” and said his hope for next season is that they’re competing for a championship.
“I think that’s very doable — that we’re one of the top two, three, four teams — and then we’re fighting for a playoff spot, playing this time of year,” Alter said. “That’s where we want to be, and I think we have every reason to think that’s doable.”
Bandits swept in finals
The Chicago Bandits were swept in three games by the USSSA Pride in the National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series. USSSA finished the sweep with a 4-0 victory Saturday night in Rosemont.