Ryan ends regular season on 23-game winning streak

Ten games in six days.

A daunting task, but none too arduous for Bishop Ryan’s softball team to complete without a loss.

The Lions swept a senior night doubleheader with Minot High 9-1 and 10-1 on Thursday at South Hill Complex, remaining perfect throughout the six-day stretch and closing the regular season on a 23-game winning streak.

Ryan outscored opponents 115-10 in those 10 games, winning by mercy rule in six.

“I thought we made some improvements throughout the week, and I like to see that,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “We had some spots where things didn’t go perfectly, but I liked how we battled and came through strong.”

The Lions (24-2 overall, 23-1 West Region) own the top seed in next week’s region tournament, while the Majettes (11-14, 9-11), with four games to play, remain in the hunt for the No. 3 seed.

On Wednesday, Ryan throttled Minot 17-1. The Majettes provided much more of a test this time around.

Normally very potent in the first two innings, the Lions led 1-0 after the second inning of both games.

“Credit Minot High, they made some great plays,” Stewart said. “They made a lot of defensive plays.”

Eventually, the hits rolled in for Ryan, which recorded 10 in the opener and 13 in the nightcap.

“It’s been a long week and it’s been a successful week,” Ryan senior catcher Maddie Lipp said, “but I think just these last two games – especially with it being senior night and cancer awareness night – everyone was being tight in the box and a little bit tight in the field. You’ve just gotta stay loose in the box and if a pitch comes to hit, just hit it.”

In the first game, Ryan tacked on two runs in the third and three in both the fourth and fifth. The Lions nearly triggered the mercy rule in the fifth, but Lipp was caught stealing home after a wild pitch took a fast bounce off the backstop.

Ryan came within a hit of ending the second game in the sixth inning, but stranded two runners. Minot ended the Lions’ streak of six straight doubleheaders with at least one 10-run-rule win.

“I thought today we gave a good effort,” Minot coach Gerard Cederstrom said. “A couple of hits here and there, we score a few more runs and keep the game a little bit closer.”

Ryan senior Brieann Backes (13-0) didn’t allow an earned run in giving up six hits and four walks with 13 strikeouts. The Majettes’ lone run came unearned in the top of the seventh.

Junior Hannah Stewart improved to 11-2, yielding zero earned runs, four hits and two walks while striking out three.

Senior Lexi Benno and sophomore Cassie Askvig suffered the losses for Minot.

Stewart’s streak of five straight games with a home run was snapped, but she still recorded three hits in the series, as did Lipp, Sheyenne Schmidt, Anika Rovig and Sydney Marmon.

Senior right fielder McKenzie Ebert led the Lions in hits, going 4-for-7 with two runs and an RBI on the day. Lipp reached base five times – 3-for-5 with four runs, two RBIs and two walks.

“It seems like different kids are taking their turn,” Julie Stewart said. “Ebert goes 3-for-4 in the first game and Marmon goes 3-for-4 (with five RBIs) in the second game. Maddie Lipp had a consistent day. That’s what you need. It’s great to see. It shows that we have some depth.

Ryan will receive a first-round bye at the West Region tournament. Minot travels to Turtle Mountain today.

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