Fence busters

“A truckload of runs” is the only way Century softball coach Kevin Ziegler could describe the damage Bishop Ryan’s Hannah Stewart and Anika Rovig caused at the plate Monday at South Hill Complex.

That’s a pretty fair assessment.

Stewart and Rovig, the Lions’ third and cleanup hitters, combined to hammer five home runs as Ryan waxed Century 10-0 and 10-1.

“We were trying to figure out how to pitch to them; they’re just that good of hitters,” Ziegler said.

The long balls overshadowed Ryan’s pitching and fielding, which remained consistent.

Stewart, a 6-foot-2 junior right-hander, completed a six-inning no-hitter in the opener. She allowed a single baserunner – on the Lions’ lone error of the day – and struck out 11.

“I thought she was really confident today,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “She threw hard. She was comfortable. I thought she was sharp. Also, (senior catcher Maddie Lipp) and our coaches called a great game.”

Senior Brieann Backes scattered three hits over seven innings with two walks and eight strikeouts in the second game.

After two scoreless innings in the first game, Hannah Stewart and Rovig pounded back-to-back solo shots to right-center. Stewart’s line drive blazed out in a hurry while Rovig’s high fly ball carried with the 20-mph wind.

Ryan (19-2 overall, 18-1 West Region) added two runs in the fifth to chase Century pitcher Cassidy Miller. A six-run sixth allowed the Lions to end their sixth straight contest by mercy rule.

“It seems like when you hit the ball well, it just really makes it hard on the pitcher,” Julie Stewart said. “There’s a lot of pressure on them to hit spots and not give you good pitches to hit, yet get you swinging. It’s a good position to be in when you’re on a roll.”

In the nightcap, Rovig added two more

four-baggers – the first multi-home run game of her career – and Stewart delivered another no-doubter.

“Everyone on the team knows that we all have the capability to hit the ball,” Rovig said. “I think sometimes we need reassurance from our coaches and teammates.”

Backes allowed two hits through two innings, then settled in and retired 11 straight batters before giving up a single to Kaitlyn Zuraff in the seventh.

“Power pitching like that, these girls haven’t seen much of that this year,” Ziegler said of Ryan’s two aces. “You’re not going to find a 1-2 punch like that better in the state.

“West Fargo has some good pitching, but I’m not sure they have a 1-2 punch like that. They’re just that tough.”

Senior Kaylyn Herold suffered the loss for Century (14-10, 8-10).

Despite their power hitting, neither Rovig nor Stewart led Ryan in RBIs. Senior left fielder McKenzie Ebert went 3-for-7 – all singles – driving in six runs.

Rovig finished the day 4-for-8 with four runs scored and five RBIs. Stewart turned in a 4-for-7 outing with six runs, three RBIs and a walk. Senior first baseman Sydney Marmon quietly went 4-for-6, scoring four times and walking twice.

“They’re a machine right now,” Ziegler said. “They’re taking a lot of teams only five innings. It’s kind of a big thing for us to stretch it (the second game) out like that.”

Ryan, which tallied 28 hits in the doubleheader, has won 16 consecutive games since losing a non-region contest to defending state champion West Fargo.

The Lions’ busy week (seven games in four days) continues with a home doubleheader against the West Region’s second-place team, Dickinson, at 4:30 p.m. Ryan swept the first two meetings on May 5.

“I told them we have to really take care of ourselves this week,” Julie Stewart said. “They need to get as much rest as they can, eat well, reset each night and come ready to play. We’ve got Dickinson tomorrow and we want to be ready to go.”

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