The Lady Bulldogs have their sights set on the ultimate goal, a state championship.
After posting a school record of 16 wins with only five losses, the Lady Bulldogs have a lot of talent coming back from last year's team that lost in the district semifinals to Hillsboro.
"The girls look pretty good right now and our expectations are very high this year," said second-year coach Tiffany King.
King, a former Kelly High School product, is very excited about the prospect of the team and is ready to get going.
The Lady Bulldogs are led by three senior first team all-district performers, Allison Blurton, Molly Brinkmeyer and Paige Silverthorn.
Blurton, who was an all-district shortstop last year, is coming off shoulder surgery and will not be available to play until September according to coach King.
"Allison is ahead of schedule and, according to the trainer, could start to throw soon," said King.
Just to give you an idea of what the Lady Bulldogs will miss until she returns, Blurton batted .476 last year with 14 runs batted in with an on-base percentage of .478. She had 31 hits with five doubles in 66 at-bats, scored 22 runs and had six stolen bases.
Blurton, also an excellent fielder at shortstop with 24 putouts and 41 assists last year, ended up with a .956 fielding percentage.
Blurton was also the Lady Bulldogs' No. 2 pitcher last year with a 5-1 record.
Brinkmeyer is coming off a season in which she was an all-district utility player. She will be the Lady 'Dogs No. 1 pitcher this year.
Last year, Brinkmeyer recorded 11 wins with only four losses. She pitched in 107 innings with a earned run average of only 1.44. Brinkmeyer struck out 97 and only allowed 71 hits.
She will also have a potent bat in the Lady 'Dogs attack as she batted .421 last year with 10 runs batted in. Brinkmeyer collected 27 hits in 64 at-bats.
Silverthorn, who will be counted on to play shortstop until Blurton returns, is coming off an all-district season as a catcher.
She had a .396 batting average and an on-base percentage of .486. In addition, she collected 23 hits in 58 at-bats last year. Silverthorn drove in seven runs and induced 12 bases on balls.
On defense, Silverthorn is an invaluable asset with 151 putouts last year and as catcher, threw out 6-of-11 would-be base stealers.
Coach King has a tentative lineup of Brinkmeyer at pitcher, Kaycie Williams at catcher, Alyson Friend at first base, Erin Wibbenmeyer at second base, Elizabeth Ziegenhorn at the corner on third base and Silverthorn fielding shortstop.
In the outfield, positions are up in the air in left and right field. Elizabeth Heeb will start in centerfield. Three ladies will battle for the two remaining spots in the outfield.
Coach King stated that three sophomores are in the running for left and right field. Emily Coffee, Amber Minner and Kaitlyn Turnbow are all doing well in practice according to coach King and the decision will come down to the last few days before the season opener.
First baseman Alyson Friend had a stellar season last year with a .309 batting average with 14 runs batted in. Friend was also consistent in the field with 121 putouts and a .962 fielding percentage.
Second baseman Erin Wibbenmeyer is the best bunter on the team according to coach King. She had a .362 batting average last year with six runs batted in.
Sikeston has a stout schedule playing the likes of always-tough Kelly and formidable district foes in Cape Central, Jackson and Poplar Bluff. The Lady Mules handed Sikeston two of its five losses last year.
Sikeston competes in Class 4, District 1and will have to dethrone district champ Hillsboro, whom they don't meet in the regular season.
Coach King and first-year assistant Erin Shepherd feel very confident going into the upcoming season.
Some concerns are apparent if the Lady Bulldogs expect to have another record-breaking season. First, how severe is the injury to Blurton? Second, will the younger players step up and make a big impact on the team? Coach King said, "The younger players will be a big factor for a successful season. They are working hard each day and once we get a few more practices in, they will gain confidence and produce."
The outlook for the Lady Bulldogs softball team is bright and it seems coach King and coach Shepherd have this program heading in the right direction. Don't be surprised if the Lady 'Dogs bring home their first-ever district title in softball.
The journey begins on Monday at Farmington against the Lady Knights. Game time is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The first home game is on Tuesday against Twin Rivers.