One of the most reliable sights from a Red Mountain High School softball game over much of the last four years was Jane Macha, sitting in the stands and cheering on her daughter Breanna. She had a lot to cheer about during those days: The Mountain Lions had won four consecutive state championships, with Breanna contributing mightily during the last three matchups. Breanna dominated game after game after game, taking her mother’s advice to give it all she had to heart.
Jane’s corporeal presence at Red Mountain’s games ended this year with her death on April 17, which came a few hours before Breanna would take the mound against Skyline High School. She had a choice, one without a wrong answer but still unimaginably difficult to make: either take the mound or sit out the game to be with her family.
A discussion with her father, Bill, an hour before game time led to her decision to pitch for her fellow Mountain Lions. She gave it her best as always and shut down Skyline’s offense, allowing two hits and three walks while striking out 11 batters and not allowing a single opponent to find her way home.
“It’s just a testament to her desire to go out and do well,” said Red Mountain coach Richard Hamilton of his pitcher’s efforts.
The performance was remarkable given the circumstances, but somehow it wasn’t too far off from the season Breanna put together for the Mountain Lions this season. The Red Mountain graduate wrapped up her senior season by striking out 263 batters in 192 innings and sported a 1.02 earned run average to boot. She also held her on at the plate, hitting four home runs and getting on base at a .456 clip. She also struck out just eight times in 106 at bats and walked 15 times.
All of the numbers for the Tribune’s softball player of the year came against high-caliber opponents she said always had their sights set on toppling Red Mountain. Not that the extra intensity ever bothered the team’s star pitcher.
“I actually love pressure situations; I think I play better in pressure situations,” she said.
Breanna proved her ability to perform to the highest level during the four championships her team won. The final one was a little more difficult, as the No. 2 seeded Mountain Lions actually lost their second game in the Division I tournament to Chaparral and had to claw their way through the losers’ bracket. They had to best No. 1 seed Gilbert, No. 3 seed Sandra Day O’Connor and Chaparral to make it into the championship game against No. 4 seed Mountain Ridge.
What could have been a tense game quickly turned into a blowout, with Red Mountain taking home its fifth-consecutive championship in an 8-1 victory. Breanna struck out five and allowed seven hits in her final start for Red Mountain.
She concluded her career with a 1.77 earned run average, 745 strikeouts in just less than 602 innings pitched and, most importantly, four state championships.
The ledger also counts 77 wins, but wins themselves aren’t just a result of the pitcher; as Hamilton points out, it takes the efforts of an entire team to notch a W, a point Breanna concurs with.
“It’s a very family sport because you need all of these players,” she said. “I believe that concept; everyone’s got your back.”
Breanna will begin her collegiate career this fall at Arizona State University — Hamilton said the Sun Devils have had their eye on her for years — and will have to become accustomed to the more difficult competition. It won’t be easy, but Hamilton said his former starting pitcher will be just fine.
She’ll also have a bounty of home games for her family to go out and see her pitch for Arizona State. Her mother will be there too, cheering on her daughter and reminding her to keep giving it her all.
“She’s got the best seat in the house. She’s always watching over me,” Breanna said.
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