Tripleheader sweep

Once again, the Bishop Ryan softball team put on a productive and efficient showing.

It was quick, too.

By lunchtime on Saturday, the Lions had completed three five-inning routs at South Hill Complex. Ryan whipped Minot High 15-1, then sent Jamestown packing with 10-0 and 13-0 romps.

“It always is a challenge having three games in a row on a Saturday morning, but we came in really strong, knowing what we had to do right away,” Ryan sophomore center fielder Sheyenne Schmidt said. “Not having a slow start and coming out strong right away helped us.”

The Lions (17-2 overall, 16-1 West Region), playing as the road team in a makeup game against Minot (9-10, 6-7), wasted no time in getting to Majettes pitcher Lexi Benno.

Ryan took advantage of five Minot miscues in scoring three runs in the first, seven in the second and four in the third.

“Anytime you give somebody big innings, it’s tough,” Minot coach Gerard Cederstrom said. “We’ve got to limit teams to three outs an inning. If they hit the ball and score two or three runs, you can live with that. If you have three or four errors in an inning, it kills you.”

Ryan’s Hannah Stewart, Anika Rovig, Brieann Backes and Alex Smith each collected two hits in the tripleheader opener.

Stewart, a junior right-hander, allowed an earned run on three hits and two walks while striking out six en route to the first of her two victories on the day.

Against Jamestown, the Lions used the same formula to win by mercy rule: make their opponent pay for errors and rely on solid pitching and sound fielding.

The Blue Jays (3-15, 1-15) gifted Ryan seven extra outs, recording four errors in the doubleheader opener and three in the nightcap.

The Lions, meanwhile, posted a .965 fielding percentage, yielding one error over 15 innings. They dazzled at times as well.

At third base, Backes robbed an extra-base hit with a leaping snag against the Majettes. In the third game, senior second baseman Macy Christianson smoothly slid to scoop up a grounder in the hole, turned and threw out Jamestown’s Ashlie Meier.

“The pitchers are very confident with their fielders,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “They’re backing them up well. They’re working hard, they’re alert, they’re aggressive. That’s all you can ask for.”

Backes, a senior righty, delivered a gem in the circle in the first game against Jamestown. She tossed a complete-game one-hitter, allowing two baserunners – one via walk, the other via hit-by-pitch. The Lions’ No. 2 starter struck out six and retired the Blue Jays’ final nine batters.

“It’s easier when we go five innings each game,” Backes said. “Keep the pitch counts low and get on them early. That was kind of our goal for the day.”

Ryan tallied one run in the first, then knocked home four in the third and three in the fourth. Senior catcher Maddie Lipp drilled a two-run double off the fence in left-center to end the game in the fifth.

Lipp, the Lions’ leadoff hitter, denied Schmidt the chance to hit for the cycle by cutting the game short. Schmidt, Ryan’s No. 2 hitter, opened the Jamestown series with a double, a triple and a single – all to left-center.

Schmidt ended up 5-for-6 with three RBIs against the Blue Jays. Lipp and Rovig also finished the three games with five hits for Ryan, which totaled 29 on the day.

“We knew what both of their pitchers were like,” Schmidt said of Jamestown’s pitchers. “We’ve seen them both already, so that definitely helped us at the plate.”

In the finale, the Lions kept their foot on the gas, lighting up Blue Jays pitcher Jadee Lange for nine runs – four earned – on five hits in the first. Two errors extended the inning.

Jamestown coach Mike Soulis echoed Cederstrom’s sentiments.

“Today, we gave them extra outs,” Soulis said. ” When you do that, you give them an opportunity to score extra runs, and they did that.”

Hannah Stewart threw another three-hitter, this time walking one and striking out five.

Ryan’s dynamic pitching duo provides the depth to compete well in back-to-back-to-back games, something the Lions may need in the West Region and state tournaments.

“We’re very fortunate to have two strong pitchers,” Julie Stewart said. “We’ve got to have that kind of stamina.”

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.