When it comes to the circle for the Sun Devils, most eyes go toward the sophomore lefty Giselle “G” Juarez — and rightfully so with the season she’s having. But her partner in crime, senior right-handed pitcher Breanna Macha has found her grove the last few weeks.
After losing three-straight decisions, Macha dazzled against Utah on April 28, allowing just two runs in a complete-game victory. That game, though, wasn’t the senior’s only bounce back appearance.
Aside from one four-run inning (two of those runs unearned) at UCLA, Macha has matched Juarez’s dominance in the circle.
Macha’s Stat Lines
|@New Mexico St (5/1)||7||1||7||3|
|Ole Miss (5/19-5/20)||9||1||3||12|
“Bre has just been tremendous. This last month and a half, I’m telling you that kid is lights out,” Arizona State head coach Trisha Ford said. “We got a great one-two punch. I’m just excited to watch them compete.”
One item Macha has attributed her recent success to is her change-up. She talked about it after the Sun Devils’ first win against Ole Miss in the Tempe Regional.
“These past couple weeks we’ve really worked on the change-up. Getting it feeling good again,” she said. “Just talking with coach, we had a great week of preparation. It just goes to show when we put in our work, we can come out there and play our game.”
The other part of Macha’s success is her partnership with Juarez as a one-two punch. Other than throwing from different hands, the way they pitch is also polar opposite. Macha is more of a down-ball pitcher working to get groundouts while Juarez has more strikeouts with her rise-ball attack against hitters.
Macha and Juarez played at Farrington Stadium together before either of them were Sun Devils. In Arizona’s 2014 high school championship game, Macha’s Red Mountain beat Juarez’s Mountain Ridge. They did have history, as they told how Juarez hit Macha in that game. The sophomore, with a smirk on her face, made sure to clarify it was merely an accident.
The two’s relationship started to grow further going back to the team’s series against California. Taking a jog together, they made sure each knew that they had the other’s back.
“Being able to look up to her is absolutely huge to me because I played against her and now we’re like fighting for the same spot. But we’re also cheering each other on,” Juarez said. “I don’t think many staffs have that to where they have such a tight relationship with each other. That they can still cheer each other on, but still want to compete against each other.”
Ford added: “It’s been really sweet to see that relationship grow. You always look at things from a parent perspective. It’s like seeing siblings who have been rivals their whole life start to understand each other.
“And realize they can come together and how much stronger we are when they really work together.”
Macha has mentioned a lot this season that she believes Juarez can single-handedly get the Sun Devils to a national championship. But being two wins away from a trip to the Women’s College World Series, it will take good performances from the duo to get there.
In her maroon and gold career, the senior is the furthest she’s ever been in the postseason. And it hasn’t been easy, failing to get out of the regional three straight years with three different head coaches. But Macha, the ASU bat girl of the team’s 2008 national championship team, knows what a chance in Oklahoma City means to her.
“This has been my dream to go to Oklahoma City. Just to compete at this level,” she said. “When you’re getting recruited you want to play for that national championship. Over the time it’s been a rollercoaster, but she’s (Juarez) the one to get us back on that road to Oklahoma and she has. That’s most exciting about it.”
You’ll see a lot of Macha and Juarez during the team’s Super Regional as they host No. 9 South Carolina this upcoming weekend. The game times are Friday at 8 p.m. (ESPNU), Saturday at 6 p.m. (ESPN2) and if necessary Sunday at 6 p.m. (ESPNU).