Eight players, including standout pitcher Whitney Boschert and catcher Olivia Hetzel, graduated from that group.
Howell has six players who saw significant action back this season, but there will be some major work to be done for the Vikings to return to the state tournament in October.
“I think we will need to adjust to how each of us plays individually and get used to how people play at their positions,” Vikings first baseman Sophia Davis said. “Adjust to how everyone reacts at their different positions, but I think by the end of the season we will be a good team and that we’ll have a chance [at state].”
Seniors Emily Eberwine, Logan Goulet and Ally Wilson will form the core that the Vikings will lean on to help get the club off to a strong start.
“With their senior leadership so far, and with having gone to the Final Four, they have that experience and those communication skills,” Howell coach Jenn Beckmann-Brown said. “They have a team-first mentality and their hustle, their attitude, is what [Francis] Howell softball is all about.”
Davis is a major contributor when the Vikings are at the plate.
As a sophomore, she hit .352 with 4 home runs and 26 RBIs.
Goulet and Eberwine help in the hitting department as well.
In 2017, Goulet hit .346 and Eberwine had a .327 average and 18 RBIs.
“I think Ally Wilson, Callie Unrein and Dani Lindsey are going to help step up and I think we’re going to have a pretty good lineup this year,” Davis said.
On the infield, Goulet will take over at third base and Eberwine will play at shortstop. Junior Kate Norton is slated to man second base and Davis will round out the infield at first.
“Everything looks where we want it to be right now [with the infield],” Beckmann-Brown said. “We’re starting from a solid place, we’re throwing strikes, getting groundballs and I’m happy with where things are right now.”
Junior power-hitter Dani Lindsey will handle the duties behind the plate at catcher.
In the circle, Wilson, Norton and sophomore Janna Joerling are expected to lead the Vikings’ pitching rotation.
Unrein, a senior who has not played since freshman year, will help provide some leadership to the outfield. She played for the St. Louis Chaos club team this summer.
Howell hosted a jamboree Friday, Aug. 17 and it gave the Vikings a chance to get in some live game action and see what needs to be tweaked and cleaned up before the season opener in Chesterfield on Friday.
“[The jamboree] shakes those nerves off and gets the girls a little more comfortable, and we saw some really good things. Especially with Ally on the mound,” Beckmann-Brown said.
Working with slightly less experience this season, the Vikings have had more teaching going on in preseason practices during the first few weeks of fall workouts.
“The focus has been really good and it’s been different having six returners and a full system to teach,” Beckman-Brown said. “There is a lot more teaching [this year] with our coaches and we kind of enjoy it.”
The Vikings expect plenty of competition from Gateway South Conference rivals Troy, Fort Zumwalt West and Holt as Howell seeks another GAC South title along with a potential fourth straight district championship.
Davis believes that this group has what it takes to win early and make another deep postseason run.
“We’re all very relaxed and feel like this is going to be a very good season for all of us. We’re ready for a fun season,” Davis said.
Howell opens the season at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24 with a first-round game in the Rockwood Summit Tournament against Ursuline at the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex.