Sikeston, 14-1 overall and 7-0 in the conference, will seek its third straight tourney crown. The Bulldogs defeated Cape Central 6-4 for the 2003 title.
In the aftermath of its first loss of the season, coincidentally, to prime rival and the tournament's second seed, Cape Girardeau Notre Dame, on Tuesday, Sikeston looks forward to the challenge.
"I think our kids will be pumped up (for the SEMO Conference Tournament) and we'll be just fine," said Sikeston coach Kevin Self, immediately after the Notre Dame loss. "I'm still proud of what we're doing and the kids we've got. We're not pushing the panic button, by any means. That's just part of it. Everybody loses from time to time."
Sikeston will be without the services of regular centerfielder and leadoff hitter, senior Scott Keenan, who is recovering from a slight tear in the elbow of his throwing arm. Keenan, who also pitches for the Bulldogs, is expected to be able to swing the bat in about a week, but won't be available for defensive duty for another three weeks. He has missed the past three games.
Sikeston will start junior Ross Merideth in its opener against the winner between New Madrid vs. Scott City.
Notre Dame slipped past Jackson for the No. 2 seed. Notre Dame has a loss to Jackson, but owns the huge win over Sikeston in a non-conference game.
Notre Dame (11-4) seeks its first conference tournament championship.
"I've been looking for our kids to raise the bar all year long and I think we've done it," said Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett, "but Sikeston is going to take this as a challenge, obviously, and they're going to get better before we see them again."
Added Graviett, "Like Kevin (Self) and I said on the way to the game, hopefully we'll see each other in the championship game on Monday."
Jackson (10-4) drew the No. 3 seed, while last year's No. 2 Cape Central slipped to No. 6 with its 5-10 record. Dexter (9-4) is the fourth seed and Poplar Bluff (8-8) takes the fifth spot.
No. 7 Kelly (4-5), No. 8 New Madrid (2-8), No. 9 Scott City (5-4) and No. 10 Chaffee (3-11) round out the tournament seeds.
Action begins today with two contests at Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau and continues through the weekend to Monday's championship game, also at Capaha Field, at 7:45 p.m.