The Lady Bulldogs return two players from last year's 11-13 team and must find a way to replace five stalwarts, three of which were all-region players and four-year starters, leading Sikeston to its best record ever two years ago at 16-5.
But even with all the new faces, coach Tiffany King expects weekly improvement from his squad.
"We lost a lot of players from last year," said King. "We're going to have a young team, but I'm optimistic about these girls because they've been working really hard and they're improving each day. We talked about taking the small steps to get to the large step and they've done that."
Third baseman Kaitlyn Turnbow, a junior who played outfield last year, returns as one of two players with the most experience.
Also returning from last year is the lone senior on the team, catcher Kaycie Williams.
King expects both girls to step up as the leaders of the team.
"The girls that have returned have shown to be true leaders and they are really pumped up about this year," said King. "I am looking for those two to lead the team as well as some of my returning jayvee girls. Kaycie will be a strong contributor behind the plate.
"She has really stepped into that leader spot, being the only senior, as well as Kaitlyn. She's surprised me in some ways because she's really stepped up to be the leader that all the girls need at this point."
King also has high hopes for her new second baseman, junior Katie DeLaRosa, who is out for the team for the first time.
"I look for Katie DeLaRosa to help us out," said King. "She came out for the first time after being a cheerleader and I think she's going to have a positive role. She'll be one of the strongest baserunners that we have on the team."
Junior Kristin Alcorn will be the team's usual pitcher. If she can't go, King will turn to freshman Mara Krokstrom.
"Krokstrom will see some varsity time and she'll work up to where she needs to be," said King. "Both pitchers are being consistent. They're working hard and getting better. Last year they weren't asked to do very much so we've still got some work to do."
In addition to Krokstrom, King will have few other freshmen dotting the lineup, including first baseman Kelsie Cooper and shortstop Mary Deason.
In the outfield, junior Hannah Eilders will get the nod in centerfield. Others vying for a position in the outfield are juniors Loren Stokes and Cora Burnett and freshmen Lindsey Rofkahr and Krokstrom.
King hasn't gotten a grasp yet on what kind of team she will have, whether it be a power hitting team or a speedy team.
"We're really not sure what our identity will be," said King. "We do have some speed on the team and our bats are coming around. But you've got to have defense before you can do offense.
"We're getting there. Some of our strengths are they are willing to learn, they're willing to work and they are so positive. I've never had a team that has been so positive on the field before. They're always positive and ready to learn."
Sikeston will open the season on Monday when they host Farmington at 4:30 p.m.
The Lady Bulldogs will hit the ground running as they have five games scheduled in August with the Notre Dame Tournament Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
"Overall I think this season is going to be a great experience for the girls," said King. "We're going to find success as we travel down the road. I have expectations out of all the girls either in leading or with their bat or with defense. I look for some of our upcoming freshmen to do very well.
"We're very young. Every team goes through young stages and eventually we'll get through this stage. This year we might have some struggles and obstacles but overall I think they are going to succeed and they will contribute eventually."