(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
JACKSON -- It's been an up and down season for the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs softball team.
They end the year at 10-9 with good wins and bad losses throughout. They have reaped the benefits of having a deep roster and, as of late, been devastated by injuries to both key players and those who have certain roles.
The Lady Bulldogs are hoping it all comes together Wednesday when they begin the Class 4, District 1 tournament at Jackson City Park in Jackson against their first round opponent, Poplar Bluff, at 4:30 p.m.
"I still feel that this tournament is anyone's for the taking," Sikeston head coach Tiffany Morgan said. "It just depends on who shows up on what given day. The team that shows up ready to play ball will come out with the victory."
The Lady Bulldogs go into the tournament without, arguably, their best hitter and starting first baseman the last three years.
Senior Sydney King went down with an ACL tear against East Carter Sept. 24 after a trip around the base paths triggered the injury.
King was one of Sikeston's statistical leader's throughout the season occupying the third spot in Morgan's lineup.
"She gets those timely hits for us," Morgan said. "She helped us through with a lot of big hits. We're definitely going to miss her big bat."
Not only is King out for the tournament, but Morgan is also without Kirsten Baker, a pivotal role player that would fill in when needed.
The Lady Bulldogs have had some luck within the realm of their injury problems with the return of starting shortstop, Annie Ramey.
Morgan's core group of seniors -- Madison Chaney, Sarah Dixon, Bayleah James and Kayla Fodge -- are expected to shoulder the load left by King.
Madison Smith, who has served as Morgan's utility player for most of the year, has took over King's absence at first base.
"Our seniors are really starting to come through and are staying focused," Morgan said. "Madison (Smith) has really stepped up and filled that role for us at first."
If Sikeston wants a chance at a district championship, they'll first have to go through the Poplar Bluff Lady Mules.
Sikeston defeated Poplar Bluff 5-1 during the Lady Bulldogs' first game of the season. They haven't played since.
"I think they're a team too that is battling back," said Morgan. "Every team kind of struggles here or there and I think they're right where they need to be. They've had a couple big wins."
According to Morgan, she believes both teams are comparable when it comes to pitching, where Paige Sailors and Madison Smith anchor Sikeston's rotation.
"Our pitching is probably about the same," Morgan said, "but I do think our hitting is a little better than theirs."
Waiting on either Sikeston or Poplar Bluff, is the Farmington Lady Knights -- the tournament's top seed -- Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
"Even with the injuries and all the moving around that we've had to do, the girls are playing steady ball right now," Morgan said. "The girls are overcoming that adversity as well as adversity on the field and I really feel like they're be prepared come Wednesday."
Class 2, District 1
The Kelly Lady Hawks look to be the tournament favorite.
The Hawks (18-4) are the district's top seed and have a first round bye. They await the winner of the Saxony Lutheran-Chaffee game at noon Wednesday at Scott City High School.
St. Vincent will take on East Prairie at 2 p.m. and the host team, Scott City, will play Portageville during Wednesday's night-cap at 4 p.m.
Class 1, District 1
Under new head coach, Jim Eftink, the Oran Lady Eagles are looking to make a postseason run.
Behind the arm of freshman pitcher Tatum May, the Eagles will take on Winona at 6 p.m. on the campus of Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff.
Naylor is the tournament's No. 1 seed and has received a first round bye. Van Buren will take on Delta at 4 p.m. to kick off Wednesday.