Season-opening sweep

The weather may have been frigid, but the Bishop Ryan softball team’s bats were red hot.

The 2012 Class A state runners-up scored a combined 54 runs over eight innings in a pair of convincing season-opening victories over Turtle Mountain on Monday at Herb Parker Stadium.

Having witnessed their first four games dating back to April 9 canceled due to Mother Nature’s ever-lasting winter weather, the Lions (2-0) wasted little time accounting for the lost games. Ryan batted around the order three times in the bottom of the first inning, posting 23 runs in a 36-0 victory in game one.

Sophomore Brieann Backes tossed a no-hitter, striking out 13 and walking two as the Lions completed the sweep with an 18-0 win in game two.

“Just excited to get started,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said, “and so are the girls. It’s just great to get a game in. We want to get these kids a season.”

Ryan brought 29 batters to the plate in the first inning of the season, highlighted by sophomore Sydney Marmon’s home run in her third plate appearance of the frame. Everyone in the lineup touched home plate at least three times in the opener and Sam Smith had a game-high five runs scored.

The run support was more than enough for sophomore Hannah Stewart, who pitched a complete-game two-hitter. Turtle Mountain’s Kassandra Poitra broke up Stewart’s perfect game with a one-out double in the top of the fourth inning. Stewart struck out 11 to earn the victory.

“I was happy that our defense was strong,” Julie Stewart said. “Both games, we held them to zero and that was the main goal for the game to defensively be really strong.”

Playing in her first varsity game with the Lions, junior Macy Christianson hit a grand slam in the bottom of the third to extend the lead to 32. Christianson went 3-for-3 with a home run, triple and seven RBIs in game one.

“We started off really swinging well,” Julie Stewart said. “It’s just nice for the girls to be able to swing the bat and be comfortable. We also had some kids that have never played before in a varsity game.”

The second game was more of the same, although the Bravettes (0-2) limited Ryan to three first-inning runs. But the Lions broke out in the second inning with 11 runs thanks in part to Turtle Mountain’s pitching and fielding woes. Of the 13 batters that reached base safely in the inning, seven were from walks and four were due to fielding errors.

Turtle Mountain’s pitching was out of sync throughout the second game. Starting pitcher Gia Davis lasted an inning and a third, allowing 11 runs and walking seven. Dara Jerome went the remaining two and two-third innings on the mound.

Where the Bravettes were sporadic on the mound, both Stewart and Backes were in complete control. The pitching duo – along with the defense behind them – didn’t allow a Turtle Mountain player to advance past second base in either game.

“It was good offense, good defense,” Backes said. “We had some new girls on the field in the second game and it was nice to get them some playing time.”

One of those new girls was junior Laurin Leidholt, who smacked a two-run home run to center field in the third inning for the Lions’ only long ball of the second game.

The Lions are scheduled to play a doubleheader against Dickinson on Friday beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Herb Parker Stadium.