As fall practices continue, we head out to the diamond to take a look at a pair of teams that have high expectations for the upcoming softball season. Both Francis Howell Central and Pattonville return an outstanding core group of experienced players in hopes of competing for conference titles and a chance to play in the state tournament.

Aaron Pearson takes over the Spartans program after being an assistant for the past seven years and he will have a pair of all-district players to help Howell Central make a return trip to the Missouri State High School Activities Association state playoffs. Phoebe Miller and Sarah Hoshaw return to the Spartans line-up this fall after outstanding seasons last year.

Pattonville will have a new head coach, as well as Danelle Emerick, takes over as she welcomes back eight starters from last season. Sarah Rizzello will lead the Pirates pitching staff after only playing the last half of last season while Madison Leckrone will pace the Pattonville offense at the plate.

Francis Howell Central Spartans

  • Head Coach – Aaron Pearson
  • Record at school – 0-0 in first year
  • Conference – Gateway Athletic Conference
  • 2021 record – 25-9
  • 2021 highlights – Won the GAC South with an 8-2 record and advanced to the MSHSAA Class 5 title game in which they lost to Lee’s Summit West 6-5.
  • Starters Returning: Phoebe Miller, Ashley Leible, Sarah Hoshaw, Samantha Mangnall
  • Returning players: Phoebe Miller – First team all-conference, First team all-district, Second team all-region, Sarah Hoshaw – Second team all-district, Second team all-conference, and Ashley Leible. Phoebe Miller returns after an outstanding 2021 season where she had a .417 batting average and drove in 18 runs while Mikayla Goforth and Sydney Webb will take over the pitching duties this season for the Spartans.
  • Players to Watch: Phoebe Miller, Sarah Hoshaw, Ashley Leible, Mikayla Goforth,  Sydney Webb, and Samantha Mangnall
  • Season Outlook: “We return some key players who got great experience and performed well on the state runner-up team,” stated Pearson.  “We play a demanding schedule both in the GAC South and outside of the conference and will need some young players to step up.  We’re looking forward to the challenge and competition.”

Key Games:

  • Friday – Saturday, August 27 at 16th Annual Lead Off Classic
  • Thursday, September 15 vs Troy
  • Tuesday, September 20 vat Howell


Pattonville Pirates

  • Head Coach – Danelle Emerick
  • Record at school – 0-0 in his first year
  • Conference – Suburban
  • 2021 record – 10-14
  • Starters Returning: Kayla Carr, Karmen Daniels, Sam Heine, Madison Leckrone, Sam Newton, Alli Pearia, Sarah Rizzello, and Allison Schrumpf.
  • Returning players: Madison Leckrone, Sarah Rizzello, Allison Schrumpf, and Sam Heine. Sarah Rizzello returns to lead the Pirates pitching staff after only playing the last part of last season with a shoulder injury. She had a 6-2 record when she returned to the circle with a 0.94 earned run average. Madison Leckrone led Pattonville last season at the plate with a .538 batting average and had a team-high 10 doubles.
  • Players to Watch: Madison Leckrone, Sam Heine, and Sarah Rizzello.
  • Season Outlook: “This year we have a big senior class returning,” said Emerick. “We are very excited for this upcoming season. Sarah Rizzello our pitcher is coming back from a shoulder injury that took her out at the start of our season last year. This group has been playing together for a long time and I am very excited to see what we can do. We have some talented underclassmen and incoming freshmen who are going to step up in some big roles.”

Key Games:

  • Friday, August 26 at Parkway Central
  • Tuesday, September 6 at Webster Groves
  • Tuesday, September 20 vs Parkway West



Jim Powers
Jim Powers

Jim Powers has been covering prep sports in the St. Louis area for 15+ years and a part of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Championship Broadcasts for the past 11 years. Powers is also a part of the Fox 2 Verlo Mattress Prep Zone Friday nights at 10:10 during the football and basketball seasons. If you have a prep sports story, please contact Jim at Follow Jim at @hssportscaravan