Only five players, two of which were starters last season, were lost to graduation.
The rest of the lineup from last year's 7-9 team returns intact, including the entire pitching staff.
"We're excited about the season," said Sikeston softball head coach Jenny Hobeck. I'm ready to get off to a good start. We're starting a little earlier this year, but I think the girls are ready to get started. The majority of the girls have been playing summer ball and they're looking really good."
The Lady Bulldogs return their four top pitchers from last year in sophomores Molly Brinkmeyer and Allison Blurton and seniors Jessica Owens and Kayla Crocker.
"I think we're pretty strong in the pitching department," said Hobeck. "We've got Blurton and Brinkmeyer both back, then we have Owens and Crocker. Paige Silverthorn, our catcher, is also working on some pitching."
Brinkmeyer went 6-5 on the mound in varsity and junior varsity combined. Blurton was 7-4 on the hill in both.
The Lady Bulldogs also return nearly everything in the field.
Silverthorn, a sophomore, played catcher and shortstop last season.
Juniors Julie Annesser and Whitney Wallace return in the outfield and sophomore Erin Wibbenmeyer returns at second base.
Owens and Crocker also logged several innings in the infield. Two other players that saw a lot of playing time last year, sophomores Beth Ziegenhorn and Hailey Davis, will both see action in the outfield.
"I think we're decent defensively," said Hobeck. "We're a little young in the infield, but our pitching and catching is strong, and we've got a strong outfield."
Offensively, the Lady Bulldogs also look to be improved.
Brinkmeyer led the team last year with a .475 average and 28 RBIs.
Silverthorn followed closely with a .423 average and 21 RBIs. Blurton batted .397 with 22 RBIs.
Junior Barbara Hobbs, who started as a freshmen but didn't play last year, is back with the team. Hobeck expects her to contribute immediately.
"I think we'll be better offensively," said Hobeck. "We've got some power with Blurton and Brinkmeyer and Silverthorn. We've got some speed with Owens, Annesser and Hobbs. I've got a couple good bunters back. I think we'll be improved there."
Hobeck said there will be a few freshmen that could break into the lineup as well.
The schedule will include traditionally strong Kelly, Poplar Bluff and Cape Central.
"We'd like to do better this year and improve on that record," said Hobeck. "Poplar Bluff and Kelly are big rivals for us and we'd like to take those games. We'd really like to do well in district. I think we can do pretty good at districts. Bluff and Cape are usually really strong in the district. Jackson, Farmington and Hillsboro are all in the district too, but I think we can do well this year."
Sikeston will open the season tomorrow when they travel to Farmington for a 4:30 p.m. game.