Northwestern and Morningside open the Great Plains Conference softball tournament Thursday afternoon in Hastings, Nebraska.

Northwestern is the third seed and closed out the regular season with a record of 33-11. Northwestern coach Melanie Mason says one through eight will be tough and she says last year it was the six seed that came on and went on and won nationals.

They will play sixth seeded Sioux Falls in the opening round of the double elimination tournament. Mason says they split the two games they played this year already and says they will have their hands full.

The winner of the tournament gets an automatic spot in the NAIA regionals. With a number-four ranking in the region, Northwestern would stand a good chance of landing an at-large bid. Mason says they need a couple of wins for sure to be comfortable, but she says they want to finish strong. Morningside is the fourth seed and opens against fifth seeded Doane.