Steven Williams

In the last series of the season, all Ball State (11-36, 6-18) is looking ahead to is ending their current 10-game losing streak.

Coach Alex Marconi said the streak has been a product of a last ditch effort to pull out some wins and make the Mid-American Conference tournament, an effort that has come up short.

"I think the relaxed part is where we've lacked," Marconi said. "They felt the pressure of performing and giving themselves a chance of possibly being in that tournament and they played a couple of these series knowing that we have to win some games to put ourselves in a position. I think they just put too much pressure on themselves."

Marconi said he hopes his team can play a bit more relaxed now that the end of the year is so close and the pressure all but gone.

Ball State travels to Northern Illinois (15-37, 7-17) to play its last three games of the season starting with a game at 3 p.m. (CT) Thursday. In last season's series, Ball State dropped one of three games.

He said he wants to see his team remained disciplined against a team that is second in the MAC in walks allowed and isn't afraid to throw breaking balls in hitters' counts.

"That's easier said than done," Marconi said. "It's easy to tell guys, 'Hey don't swing at a breaking ball in a 2-0 count,' at the same point they can definitely get fooled and start to chase pitches. We're going to stress that."

Northern Illinois is last in the MAC in ERA with a 6.32 mark and third from the bottom in runs scored with 223. Only Akron and Ball State have posted lower marks this season.

Offense is the most important phase this weekend for Ball State, Marconi said.

"It's always the same for us, we're looking to get quality innings from our pitchers and throwing strikes," he said. "We're looking to get big hits from our lineup and we're looking to make plays, and it sounds pretty elementary but that's what we need to do to be successful."

Sophomore right-hander T.J. Weir will start today for Ball State with the rest of the rotation shaping up depending on the amount the bullpen is used. Marconi said senior right-hander Cal Bowling will likely start one of the games and may get an inning of work in the first game.