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 took 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 their 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 own 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 seed 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 then 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 with which Breanna concurs.
“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.
The area was led by first-team selection and Ahwatukee resident Mara Kemmer of Valley Christian. She was dominant on the mound — ranked third in the state in strikeouts — and at the plate.
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2014 All Tribune softball First team
Pos. Player School Comment
P Breanna Macha Red Mountain Wrapped up her career with 263 strikeouts in 192 innings this season; allowed one run in the Lions’ title game.
C Jordan Beck Red Mountain Sported a .408 on-base percentage for the Mountain Lions.
IF Dani Nelson Gilbert Finished third in the state in home runs with 14.
IF Alyssa Fernandez Red Mountain Had 18 extra-base hits and got on base in more than half of her at-bats.
IF Taylor McCord Gilbert Cranked out 18 doubles and walked 10 more times than she struck out.
IF Alex Astorga Gilbert Combined efficient base stealing with excellent on-base skills.
OF Laynee Gomez Perry Stole 16 bases and crossed the plate 25 times as a senior.
OF Alex Wiley Red Mountain Junior excelled in the field and on the mound and increased her slugging percentage from sophomore year.
OF Kimberly Slaughter Hamilton Sophomore busted out in her first year on varsity, showcasing strong on-base skills and power.
Utility Lynsey Duncan Gilbert Pitched 23 complete games and three shutouts as a junior.
Utility Mara Kemmer V. Christian Sophomore was brilliant; struck out 281 batters in 125 innings; displayed patience/power at the plate.
Player of the year: Breanna Macha, Red Mountain
Coach of the year: Rich Hamilton, Red Mountain: After losing their second game in the Division I state tournament, Hamilton’s Mountain Lions rallied through the losers’ bracket to win a fifth consecutive title.
2014 All Tribune softball second team
Pos. Player School Comment
P Bailey Klitzke Desert Mountain While she more than held her own at the plate, excelled on the mound with 6 shutouts in 16 starts.
C Tabi Hannon Dobson Threw out almost 37 percent of base stealers and had 15 extra-base hits.
IF Bella Loomis Hamilton Finished a perfect 23 for 23 in stolen bases in her freshman year.
IF Christine Olivas Hamilton Increased her runs scored, hits and RBIs from her previous two seasons.
IF Ryann Holmes Queen Creek Showcased excellent power in her sophomore year with 24 doubles, three triples and seven home runs.
IF Mckenzy Gutierrez Red Mountain The third baseman smacked 15 extra-base hits for the state titlist.
OF Madi Merrell Queen Creek Ended her senior season with a .491 batting average, 13 doubles and 10 home runs.
OF Savannah Kirkpatrick Red Mountain Showed exponential improvement at the plate in her final year with the champion Mountain Lions.
OF Savannah Shields Westwood Freshman finished fifth in the state with 41 steals.
Utility Courtney O’Brien Desert Ridge Had a good season as a pitcher and an excellent season at the plate, including .641 slugging percentage.
Michaela Duarte, Desert Vista; MacKenzie Moore, Desert Vista; Kiara Kennedy, Desert Vista; Brooke Hughes, Desert Vista; Hannah Hoban, Mountain Pointe; Kristen McCann, Mountain Pointe; Anna Howard, Mountain Pointe; Grace Blevins, Valley Christian; Brittany Hopper, Perry; Ashley Hill, Red Mountain; Emma Ocker, Gilbert; Mackensie Garretson, Gilbert; Hailey Heeringa, Valley Christian; Jez Graf, Valley Christian; Tatum France, Valley Christian; Mackenzie Budinger, Seton Catholic; Mona Noriega, Chandler; Ashley Hill, Red Mountain; Trinity Watts, Williams Field; Natalie Montgomery, Williams Field; Sam Reynolds, Hamilton; Briielle Breland, Basha; Mona Noriega, Chandler; Brittany Medina, Basha; Nicole Matta, Basha; Katie Cunningham, Chandler; Hailee Siroky, Basha; Alyssa Barlow, Perry; Cheyenne Noli, Hamilton; Sierra Steimel, Basha; Sydney Behrens, Chandler; Alina Lopez, Chandler; Rachel Foote, Hamilton; Nicole Spykstra, Hamilton; Taylor Aldridge, Perry; Payton Fry, Perry; Sabrina Nieto, Perry; Kaitlyn O’Day, Skyline; Shea Wilson, Skyline; Page Roberts, Mountain View; Stacia Seeton, Westwood; Brennah Vaughan, Skyline; Kelly Stumper, Dobson; Bianca Gonzales, Skyline; Maddy Mercer, Skyline; Amber Smith, Mesa; Christina Terry, Mesa; Theodora Yellowman, Mountain View; Jaycee Lindley, Skyline; Marian Ruf, Red Mountain; Jamie Lavender, Dobson; Matty Roberts, Mountain View; Elicia Burbank, Westwood; Mariah Parks, Dobson; Alyssa Thibodeau, Dobson; Brittany Lindblom, Mountain View; Skylar Arellano, Mesa; Sammie Zamora, Dobson; Andrea Rizzo, Highland; Micki Williams, Highland; Madi Baron, Highland; Regan Herzog, Mesquite; Taylor Cullen, Mesquite; Ashley Michelena, Mesquite; Chryse Hausenfluck, Desert Ridge; Jordan Strawser, Gilbert Classical Academy; Ester Ferguson, Gilbert Classical Academy; Eleanor Woodward, Gilbert Classical Academy; Paige Hess, Campo Verde; Maddi Johnson, Campo Verde; Sam Leighty, Campo Verde.