After consecutive weekends on the road that yielded mixed results, the Northwest Missouri State softball team will spend the next two at home.
A 10-game homestand that was supposed to start Thursday instead begins Saturday at noon with Lindenwood.
That's followed by a noon doubleheader with Truman State Sunday.
Both doubleheaders loom large with respect to conference positioning.
Truman State (20-10, 8-6), Northwest (19-11, 7-7) and Lindenwood (17-19, 8-8) represent the sixth, seventh and eighth place teams in the MIAA.
The Bulldogs are a game ahead of both and play third-place Missouri Western before heading on to Maryville.
Northwest split doubleheaders with both weekend opponents last year at home.
The Bearcats went 1-3 last weekend against Nebraska-Kearney and Fort Hays State on the road, losing all three games by two runs or less.
They finished their eight-game road swing at 4-4.
Northwest senior pitcher Jenna Creger (9-6) took the loss in both games at Fort Hays State, but still ranks second in the MIAA in ERA (1.36) and third in opponents batting average (.190).
The Bearcat offense has produced four runs runs or less in eight consecutive games and their team average has dipped below .300.
Northwest's top hitter is Candace Miller with a .368 average. Kristen Uthe, who homered for the fourth time this year at Fort Hays, is hitting .342.
Hoping for a carry-over from the previous weekend, the Northwest Missouri State baseball team heads south again to face Emporia State in a three-game series that begins with a doubleheader Saturday and concludes with a nine-inning game Sunday.
The Bearcats, who host William Jewell in a make-up game today, took two of three from Southwest Baptist last weekend to keep their faint MIAA Tournament hopes alive.
Northwest averaged 20 runs per game in the series, hit close to .500 as a team and scored a program record 31 in the series finale.
Northwest (12-23, 10-20) sits 12th in the conference and trails the eighth-place team, Fort Hays State (20-15, 16-14), by six games with 13 to play.
The Bearcats have yet to win a series from a team higher than 11th place in the conference, and Emporia State (22-14, 20-11) just moved into third place with a doubleheader sweep of Missouri Southern Thursday.
The Hornets, who swept Truman a weekend before, have won their last eight games.
Emporia's lineup contains seven .300 hitters. Second leading hitter Aaron Rea (.350) is tied for first in the conference in doubles with 16. Dakota McKaskie is ESU's top starter with a 2.56 ERA that ranks third in the MIAA.
Northwest's leading hitter is Tyler Durant with a .348 average. Starting catcher JJ Baccari is hitting .345 with three homers and 10 doubles. Eric McGlauflin leads Northwest in homers with six.