DURAND — As Danica Lienemann thinks about where she’d like to go to college next year, she’s staying focused on something else that’s important to her: softball.

The 17-year-old senior is on the varsity softball team at Durand High School, and plays travel softball in the summer. Asked what she enjoys doing in her spare time, her answer is brief and to the point.

“I go to the gym and play softball,” Lienemann said.

She has already been accepted to Alma College, where she hopes to play softball. But more recently, Lienemann was nominated for the University of Michigan’s HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leader) Scholarship, an academic scholarship that pays full tuition at UM-Ann Arbor for all four years of undergraduate study.

Lienemann is the only student at her school nominated for the HAIL this year. She should know if she is one of the award winners next month, she said. However, she can’t say whether that will affect her decision about college.

She is also undecided on a career, but is weighing the medical field as a possibility. Lienemann has such a wide array of choices, it’s hard to make a final call right now.

“Danica has worked hard to create opportunities for herself,” said Nicole Carpenter, academic and student services coordinator at DHS. “Danica is still undecided about her future college and career plans, but she has created many options for herself and has laid the groundwork for her success in whatever path she chooses to pursue.”

Lienemann has attended Durand schools since the second grade, and said she has appreciated the individual attention she has gotten.

But what she has been even more grateful for are Carpenter and guidance counselor Doug Dallas, who are helping her navigate through the big decisions that lie ahead.

“The two counselors have helped a lot,” Lienemann said.

This semester, the high grade-earner is taking Advanced Placement psychology and English, a senior leader class, personal finance, strength and conditioning training, and art.

In addition to softball, Lienemann said she’s planning to join the DHS power-lifting club. She identified Samantha Lach, her gym instructor, as her all-time favorite teacher.

“(Lach) is just really involved, and she tries to relate to us,” Lienemann said. “She’s one of the younger teachers, so she understands us more.”

Her role model is her mother, Rachel Lienemann, who is raising her and siblings Dylan, 13, and Makayla, 8.

“She’s a single mom with three kids and somehow keeps this household together,” Danica Lienemann said.

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