It has been more than a week since the Pittsburg State softball team has taken the field to actually play a softball game.

It has been more than a week since the Pittsburg State softball team has taken the field to actually play a softball game.
At least for now, they will get their chance.
The Gorillas (18-13) open the conference portion of the season on Monday and Tuesday as it takes on No. 23 Nebraska-Omaha (20-5) and Northwest Missouri (9-21).
The Gorillas begin conference play on Monday at 1 p.m. with a doubleheader against first-year MIAA member Nebraska-Omaha.
After splitting with Oklahoma Panhandle State University and getting a four-game split at the Missouri Western Invitational last weekend, head coach Brad Horky said that there are still questions for the Gorillas heading into the start of the conference slate.
“We have not but it all together yet,” Horky said.
Thus far, the Gorillas are batting .269 compared to their opponent’s .271.
The Gorillas are led at the plate by freshman Amanda DeCastro with a .368 batting average. She also leads the team in hits (32), doubles (11) and RBI (21). Senior Maria Bernal leads the team in runs scored with 22 and junior Jessica Jones is the leading home run hitter with four.
Juniors Tiffany Swanson and Melissa Slayden are the team's leaders in the circle. Slayden has a team best 10-4 record with three shutouts in 17 appearances. She has a 2.40 ERA in 99.1 innings pitched. Swanson has a team-best 2.12 ERA and a 7-6 record with two shutouts and a save.
“Record-wise, we are about where I thought we needed to be with our strength of schedule,” Horky said.
The Gorillas are currently 14-9 against teams in their region, which goes on towards bids to the regional tournament in May.
“We could have a few more wins though,” Horky said.
The Gorillas are also waiting for junior transfer pitcher Erin DeStefano to return to the lineup after being out the last month when she took a sharp hit to her left eye.
There was the possibility that DeStefano, who was batting .400 before sustaining the injury, could be back this weekend.
“I have not pitched yet but, I am not nervous about going to the plate,” DeStefano, who was batting .400 prior to her injury, said. “I will give it a couple of weeks to get my pitches working and, after I get past that first batter, I will be okay.”
The Lady Mavs were picked to tie with Emporia State for the conference title in a preseason poll voted on by the league's coaches. The team rides a nine-game win streak coming into Pittsburg. Four of the Lady Mavs last six games were in extra innings.
Northwest Missouri will come to Pittsburg for a Tuesday doubleheader beginning at noon.
The Bearcats will face Missouri Southern in Joplin on Sunday before crossing the border to PSU. The Bearcats are 9-21 on the season and have lost eight of their last 10 games.
One of the wins in that 10-game stretch was a 6-4 victory over Pitt State in the PSU Invitational on March 13. The Bearcats finished third in the conference last season and were picked to finish fourth this year.
Pitt State is 18-13 in 2009, after finishing fourth in the MIAA last season with a 10-8 conference record and a 23-29 overall record.

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140. Follow Morning Sun sports at twitter.com/mssports.