Lions defend region title

JAMESTOWN – During Dickinson’s timeout in the bottom of the seventh inning of Saturday’s West Region softball tournament championship game, Bishop Ryan coach Julie Stewart met with her batter, senior catcher Maddie Lipp. The dilemma: how to break a scoreless tie.

“We had (runners on) first and third with no outs,” Stewart said. “I asked Maddie what she wanted to do. She just said, ‘I got this.’ I could tell she had the confidence to get the job done.”

Lipp ripped the game-winning hit to center field, scoring senior pinch runner Macy Christianson and lifting Ryan to a 1-0 victory over the Midgets and a third consecutive region tournament title.

“It was a fun thing to go out on,” said Lipp, who will play at the University of Mary next year. “But I want to go out with a bigger win than that for my whole career.

“I thank God for allowing us to get this far and hopefully we can make it to next Saturday.”

The Lions (26-2) clinched the West Region’s top seed in the state tournament, which begins Thursday at South Hill Complex.

Ryan received a bye Friday in the first round of the region tourney, then knocked off Minot High 13-0 in five innings Saturday morning, followed by the narrow win over Dickinson (21-5).

Senior Brieann Backes and junior Hannah Stewart provided dominant performances in the circle.

Against Minot, Backes scattered two hits, walked one and struck out nine. Senior Lexi Benno suffered the loss for the Majettes, allowing 13 runs in four innings, but only four earned. Ryan’s Lipp, Stewart, Anika Rovig, McKenzie Ebert and Anna Petz eached recorded two hits.

“Brieann pitched a great game and our kids came to play against Minot,” Julie Stewart said. “We weren’t looking past Minot.”

Hannah Stewart went the duration against the Midgets, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out 10. Dickinson sophomore Madison Jahner suffered the loss, giving up four hits – three in the seventh inning – and six walks to go with three strikeouts.

The Lions have dealt Dickinson all five of its losses. Of Ryan’s 25 consecutive wins, none were closer than No. 25.

Both teams had bases-loaded opportunities with no outs, but the other found a way to wriggle out of the jam.

“They came ready to play,” Julie Stewart said. “It was a hard-fought, defensive battle.”

But Ryan just needed one run.

Petz, a sophomore designated player, drilled a single to right field to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Senior right fielder Alex Smith followed with a bunt single. Christianson, pinch-running for Petz, reached third on an overthrow on Smith’s infield hit.

Then Lipp sent a 3-1 offering to center field, completing a region three-peat. Her base knock would’ve scored Smith as well, but the Lions only needed one.

“It wouldn’t have meant anything without Anna and Alex’s hits,” Lipp said.

Added Julie Stewart: “I’m just excited to watch these girls be able to focus and mentally be tough. That’s not easy when you’re not able to manufacture runs. We were able to go out there and do the little things to get the job done.”

Majettes fall in state-qualifier

Third-seeded Bismarck ended Minot’s season by winning a state-qualifier game 8-2 on Saturday at the West Region tournament.

Minot, the No. 5 seed, beat fourth-seeded Century 7-3 earlier in the day, then fell to Ryan in five innings in the semifinals.

The Demons were upset by sixth-seeded Jamestown on Friday in the first round and responded by routing Turtle Mountain 16-0 in a loser-out contest later that day. Their only game Saturday was against Minot.

Century, which dropped directly into a state-qualifier game following its loss to Minot, beat Jamestown 8-0.

The West Region’s top four seeds all advanced to the state tournament.

Minot finished the season with a 15-18 record.

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