Lions split with Midgets

Sophomore slugger Hannah Stewart crushed a two-run home run to secure a 9-2 win for the Bishop Ryan softball team Friday at Herb Parker Stadium.

Stewart atoned for a shaky performance on the mound in a 2-1 loss in the first game and finished 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs in the nightcap.

“I was a little tense in the (game one) at-bats and I just tried to relax and focus on each pitch,” Stewart said.

The strategy worked. After hitting just 1-for-3 in the first game, Stewart settled in at the plate along with the majority of Lions.

Dickinson took a 1-0 lead in both games, but Ryan (3-1 overall, 3-1 West Region) was ready in the latter. Senior infielder Sam Smith stole second and third in the bottom of the first inning and Stewart brought her in with a single.

Stewart scored on an error after also stealing two bases and two more runs came across when junior Sydney Marmon hit a single. Junior Anika Rovig scored comfortably from second and classmate Maddie Lipp eluded a swarm of Midgets in a rundown. Lipp’s initial dive into home missed, but a second lunge beat the tag.

“For all of them, I thought in the second game, you know, offensively, we started to hit the ball better,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said.

Hannah Stewart, who had two infield pop-ups in the first game, finally got behind a pitch in the fifth inning for her first dinger of the season. She crushed a delivery from Dickinson freshman Madison Jahner clear over the centerfield fence to drive in Smith for the second of three occasions in the game.

“It’s early in the year, so she’s just a little tight and, you know, sometimes you don’t think,” Julie Stewart said. “Just go up and hit the ball, you know how to hit the ball.”

Ryan junior Brieann Backes earned the win with a steady performance on the mound. Backes had good command and didn’t allow a runner in three innings of the complete game. She finished with seven strikeouts, including three in the second inning.

“I just felt really comfortable and remembered to take a breath and not kind of quick-pitch myself,” Backes said, “and I knew I had a strong outfield and defense behind me, so I felt pretty comfortable letting the ball be hit.”

Defense was a low point for the Lions in the first game. A dropped third strike allowed Dickinson junior Rachel Jahner to reach base in the game’s first at-bat and wild pitches sent her to second and home. Ryan had an error in both the fourth and fifth innings and Stewart hit a batter to load the bases in the sixth. The winning run was walked in.

Dickinson junior Haley Butterfield gave up just five hits in the win and stranded six runners in scoring position.

“I just really focused on hitting my spots because when you’re going up against a really good hitting team like them, you’ve got to make sure you can hit your spots and throw your different pitches,” Butterfield said.