The Bishop Ryan softball team has spent plenty of time in practice on its aggressiveness on the basepaths.
That extra work was on display during the Lions' 13-0 five-inning victory against Bismarck High on Thursday at South Hill Complex.
The Lions (9-1 overall, 9-1 West Region) stole 11 bases in game one of the doubleheader and jumped out to a five-run lead after the first inning and a nine-run advantage after two. Ryan junior Sam Smith stole second and third base after drawing a four-pitch walk in the first frame. Classmate Anika Rovig drove her home two batters later.
Bishop Ryan junior Maddie Lipp fouls off a pitch against Bismarck High on Thursday at South Hill Complex.
"We spend the first half of practice working on baserunning and (the coaching staff) has really stressed being aggressive because you can win or lose a game by one run," junior Maddie Lipp said. "One extra base can make or break that."
Lipp finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, three runs scored and two stolen bases. The Lion catcher struck out her second at-bat, but advanced to first on a passed ball and made her way to third as her teammates made the Demons throw the ball around. She scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by freshman Sheyenne Schmidt.
Lipp and sophomore McKenzie Ebert were the only Lions to record multiple hits in game one. Ebert doubled to left-center in the third and singled and stole second in the fourth. Ryan finished with seven hits.
"Both of them did a great job on the bases," Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. "I thought we ran the bases aggressively and it worked out for us."
That zealousness began at the plate. Bismarck pitcher Shelby Standing Elk had to work hard for every out, especially in the first two innings. Standing Elk needed 76 pitches before recording the first six outs. Lipp fouled off five straight pitches before advancing to first on a dropped third strike. Sophomore Sydney Marmon faced 10 pitches before striking out.
"We did have a couple long at-bats and I think it kind of becomes a battle mentally," Stewart said. " 'Can you stay focused? Can you stay in the situation?' "
Ebert fouled off two pitches before recording the Lions' second extra-base hit of the game.
"Being loose, calm and confident at the plate is key during those at-bats," Ebert said.
Of the 14 Ryan batters facing a two-strike count, eight reached base safely. All nine starters reached base at least once and eight recorded a run. Ryan left just two runners on base in the first game. Lipp faced a two-strike count in all three at-bats and didn't record an out. She said being a catcher makes it a bit easier.
"It's easier to anticipate what the pitcher is going to throw and what the catcher is going to call," she said. "I try to put myself in the catcher's position, like what I would call for Hannah (Stewart) or Brieann (Backes) If I was behind the plate."
Hannah Stewart pitched a complete-game two-hitter, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters faced. She finished with six strikeouts in the victory.
The Lions completed the sweep with a 6-1 victory in game two. Ryan trailed 1-0 entering the fifth inning, but scored two in the frame and four in the sixth.
Junior Brieann Backes allowed three hits in seven innings, striking out three to earn the win. Backes went 1-for-3 with 2 RBIs. Marmon, Rovig, Schmidt and Stewart also tallied RBIs.
Ryan hosts a doubleheader against Jamestown beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at South Hill Complex.