In the end, her longing to continue her Catholic education determined where Bishop Ryan senior Maddie Lipp will play college softball.
Surrounded by her parents, Steven and Trini Lipp, and Ryan softball coach Julie Stewart, the two-time all-state catcher inked a letter of intent Wednesday afternoon - as part of National Signing Day - to play for the University of Mary Marauders.
"There were a couple other options," Lipp said, "but I just felt like U-Mary was the best education for my major and what I want to go into."
Bishop Ryan senior Maddie Lipp, a two-time all-state catcher, signed a letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to play for the University of Mary softball program.
Lipp, who plans to pursue degrees in Catholic studies and education, said her faith weighed heavily into her decision.
"Probably the Catholic formation there," she said of what drew her most to Mary. "Me and my family have been a very practicing Catholic family. That's what mostly attracted me to the university itself. I was just blessed enough for them to be interested in me playing for them."
At Mary, Lipp will play for first-year Marauders coach KJ Kelley. During her collegiate career at University of Massachusetts, Kelley notched all-Atlantic 10 Conference honors four times and made the Easton All-America First Team in 2005. She spent the past four years as an assistant at University of Toledo.
"She's really young and relatable," Lipp said. "I just like what she's doing with the program, the way she's turning it around. It will be a fun thing to be a part of."
The Marauders finished the 2013 season 24-19 with a 13-11 record in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.
Lipp, also a member of Ryan's volleyball and basketball teams, batted .432 last year in leading the Lions to their second straight Class A runner-up finish.
"She's got a toughness that you love to see in your athletes," Stewart said. "She's just a very intense competitor."
Mary's current roster includes zero North Dakotans. Lipp praised the Ryan program for developing her as a player and providing big stages to play on, especially coming from a state not well-known for producing collegiate softball talent.
"I've had really great coaches and really great mentors and older players to help me," Lipp said. "My team is really great. I couldn't have done anything without them."
"We've had a great team the past couple of years, so that's helped with getting recognition and getting exposed to schools," she added.
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.