by Kasey Kaler, SDA Communications Intern (Class of 2014)
She was just nine years old when she first took the field at Alberta B. Farrington Stadium for the Sun Devils.
Now, nearly nine years later Breanna Macha will finally don maroon and gold for the Sun Devils with four consecutive state championships at local Red Mountain High School and the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year for Arizona to her résumé already.
“That was when I really knew I wanted to be a Sun Devil. I wanted to play here, staying true to the program that welcomed me and be a part of what was being built at that time,” Macha said of her bat girl experience in 2006, the first year of former head coach Clint Myers.
Nine years later the Sun Devils remain one of the premier softball programs in the country, having been to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in seven of the last nine seasons en route to two national championships.
“I knew when Coach Myers took over that he instilled a sort of culture in his girls that they were going to win championships, compete with the best and be a family,” Macha said, thinking back to her first experience at Farrington. “They took care of me as this little nine-year old. They explained the game when I had questions and I know that that family mentality hasn’t changed a bit under Coach Nicholson.”
And so, after her very first experience at Farrington, Macha and her family kept coming back, attending home games whenever they could, joining the annual Holiday Camps held during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks and most importantly returning as the winning pitcher in the Mountain Lions’ four consecutive state titles.
In her final season at Red Mountain, Macha remained the dominating presence she has come to be known as, posting a 22-5 record in the circle to go along with a 1.02 earned run average and 256 strikeouts in just 186 innings pitched. Macha wasn’t just superb in circle however, as she posted a .365 batting average and knocked in 23 runs.
“That’s just the type of competitor I am, I want to rise up in those situations that call for someone to do just that. I would like to think that I thrive under pressure, when my team needs me most, that’s when I’m at my best,” Macha said, while also comparing her competitive demeanor to boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Following the signing of her National Letter of Intent in November of 2013, head coach Craig Nicholson beamed about the addition of Macha and her competitiveness: “I feel like the bigger the game, the better she will pitch. The ultimate thing I can say about her is that when the lights are brightest, she’s going to show up. We’re very excited about what she can bring to this program.”
If boxing is outside of your realm of knowledge perhaps this comparison might be better suited: Macha also compares her demeanor in the circle to that of former Sun Devil pitcher Mackenzie Popescue, another local kid with a menacing presence.
The similarities between Popescue and Macha are not to be ignored; both are listed at five feet and six inches tall, both offer opposing batters a devastating changeup and both incorporate a demeanor that could best be described as an alter ego in the circle to strike fear in opponents.
Another similarity between the two, Macha will sport the familiar number 99 in 2015.
“She [Popescue] is definitely someone I look up to as a pitcher. From a batter’s standpoint, she is so intimidating out there with her sunglasses and her scowl, ” Macha explained.
With the departures of Popescue and fellow ace Dallas Escobedo, Macha knows she has a tough act to follow, and yet she remains unworried: “I knew coming in that I would be following in the footsteps of those two. But, I know I can compete at this level and help this team. When I started high school, I set a goal for myself to win four state championships, and I did that. Now, I’m ready to win a national championship and that’s what I’m here to do.”