Dons beat smoke for first league win in years

Unfortunately, ash falling from the sky is something we’ve seen far too often lately.

A Channel League win for the Santa Barbara High softball team?

That’s been about as common as an ice storm on State Street.

The Dons won their first league contest in at least eight years Tuesday, taking out visiting San Marcos 5-1 as smoke from the Jesusita Fire blew down the hill and left a burning smell in the air.

It was the Santa Barbara bats that were on fire, as five Dons recorded multi-hit games. Junior pitcher Rebecca Neilsen-Robbins, meanwhile, went the distance and allowed just three hits and a walk. She also went 3-for-3 at the plate.

“I’ve been wanting this since my freshman year. It’s the reason we play,” said Neilsen-Robbins, who credited the error-less defense behind her for playing a big part in the triumph.

Erica Singer made a running catch in centerfield which saved two runs early in the game, and Sarah Leads made a sparkling stop at second base in the top of the sixth, diving to grab a screaming ground ball before flipping it to first base.

“That was a huge play, because it saved a run,” said Neilsen-Robbins of Leads’ play, adding that Singer’s catch almost gave her a heart attack.

San Marcos (6-12, 2-7) coach Alex Sheldon was noticeably disappointed, but acknowledged what a big moment it was for Santa Barbara (9-11, 1-8) and coach Becky Penrose, who has been with the varsity team for seven years.

“They earned it. They really earned it, and I think that’s something that’s been a long time coming for them,” said Sheldon. “Becky does a terrific job with them, and they obviously out-played us today.”

Leads, Rachel Hunter, Katie Rodman and Monique Medina each went 2-for-3 in the game for Santa Barbara, with Medina smacking the team’s only base-hit with a two-run ground-rule double to deep centerfield in the fifth.

Both pitchers had control in the game, with Neilsen-Robbins and Emily Mason issuing just a walk apiece.

“We’ve gotta hit better. I thought Emily pitched well and we made some plays in the field, but we came out a little flat and they put together a full seven innings,” said Sheldon.

Catcher Jocelyn Flattery tallied a double for San Marcos’ lone extra-base hit.

The two teams clash against at San Marcos on Friday in what will hopefully be an ash-free affair.

SANTA BARBARA 5, SAN MARCOS 1

San Marcos…000 001 0 — 1  3  0

Santa Barbara…101 030 X — 5  11  0

Mason and Flattery; Neilsen-Robbins and Lopez.

2B — SM: Flattery, SB: Medina.

Team records — SM 6-12, 2-7; SB 9-11, 1-8.

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