Northwestern softball coach Melanie Mason feels her team has made strides as Great Plains Conference action begins. After winning the league title a year ago, Northwestern was the pre-season conference favorite and Mason says several newcomers are playing significant roles.Freshman Megan Grooters has done well on the mound, posting a 4-3 record. Mason says her team will get plenty of competition in the league race. Northwestern visits arch-rival Dordt on Wednesday.