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Eye on the ball: Packer catcher headed to Northern State

West Fargo High graduate Michaela Liebl will take her softball talents to Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., this fall. David Samson

Michaela Liebl became hooked on softball when she was in preschool. Now, the recently-graduated West Fargo Packer catcher is headed to Northern State University at Aberdeen, S.D., to play NCAA Division II softball.

“I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get closer to the team and settled in,” said Liebl.

Today, Liebl, the 2014 North Dakota All State and All Eastern Dakota Conference winner, is playing with the West Fargo Impact summer fastpitch travel team at the 18U Western National’s tournament in Gillette, Wyo.

At bat 92 times during her senior year, Liebl posted 10 home runs, 52 RBIs and a .500 batting average with the Packers.

Goes back to day care

Liebl was enrolled in Tani Rheault’s day care in West Fargo as a child. The Rheaults were big softball fans.

“I was always around them and fell in love with the game,” she said.

Liebl started playing on Tim Rheault’s West Fargo Impact team in fifth grade.

The Rheaults’ daughter Brittany pitched and Liebl was the catcher, she said.

She’s been playing softball ever since.

“I love it,” she said.

Liebl began playing school ball as a freshman. She started at first base her sophomore year and switched to catcher her junior and senior year.

“She was my No. 4 hitter, my cleanup and catcher,” said West Fargo girls softball coach Pat Johnson.

“She basically ran the defense because she could see the whole field,” he said.

Liebl toured 12 colleges before deciding on Northern State.

“I really like this coach,” she said. “Going from Pat Johnson, who expects the best always, I wanted a coach that would push me that way and make me be a better player.”

Liebl plans to major in business, marketing or something in that area, she said.

She’s looking forward to this fall when the Northern State Wolves take on North Dakota’s Jamestown College in women’s softball.

That’s because West Fargo classmates Brittany and Brook Rheault, Sidney Greenland and Jolene Woodbury will be on the opposite team, she said.

Liebl plans to stay connected with softball after college.

“I think coaching would be quite a cool thing to do,” she said. “I love the game, so I want to stay with it.”