Craig Nicholson is getting a gift next year. The Arizona State softball coach will begin just his second season directing the Pac-12 program and he will have the services of one of the best high-school pitchers in Arizona.
And it required little recruiting effort since she has been a big Sun Devil fan since she was in grade school, when she worked as a bat girl for the team.
Breanna Macha, who was just announced as this year’s Arizona Republic Big Schools Softball Player of the Year, posted a 1.02 ERA in leading Mesa’s Red Mountain High School to the Division I state championship. But the truly impressive part of that accomplishment was that it was the fourth straight year the senior has pitched the Mountain Lions to the championship.
This was the year for pitchers, since the boys’ Big Schools POY also earned his selection on the mound. Tyler Frost, who will be playing for Gonzaga next year, also led his team at Greenway High School to a state championship, but in Division II.
Macha spent more time at her craft this season, working 192 innings and striking out 263 batters to lead Red Mountain to a 32-6-1 record, while Frost logged 80 innings and fanned 92 as the Demons posted a 29-4 mark.
But each of this year’s recipients contributed at the plate as well.
Frost turned in an impressive performance all the way around. In addition to finishing the season with a 0.26 ERA, tops in the state, he also batted .406, had seven home runs, and collected 42 RBIs. Macha also made major offensive contributions to her team’s success this season with a .364 batting average, smacking eight home runs and 24 RBIs.
Macha not only picked up the coveted Arizona Player of the Year, but she was also named this year’s recipient for the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year.
She was one of three pitchers named to the All-Arizona Team, where she is joined by Tamara Statman from Horizon High School and Dallas McBride at Chaparral High. The rest of the selections included: Corrin Green, a catcher from Mountain Ridge HS; infielders Dani Nelson (Gilbert HS), Alyssa DiCarlo (Mtn. Ridge HS), Bianca Bolling, (North Canyon HS), and Shea Smith (Verrado HS); outfielders Rebecca Ziegler (Canyon del Oro HS), Alex Wiley (Red Mtn.), and Justyce McClain (Sandra Day O’Connor HS); designated hitter Rose Jaramillo (Raymond S. Kellis HS); and utility Mara Kemmer (Valley Christian HS).
Kemmer was also named the Small Schools Softball Player of the Year after leading her Valley Christian team to the state championship game. The sophomore posted an 0.90 ERA, logged 281 strikeouts to average more than two an inning, and batted .646 and collected 32 RBIs.
The boys’ All-Arizona Team also includes three pitchers – but Frost was not one of them. Instead, he was given a spot on the honorary team in a utility role since he also excelled at playing center field, where he made just one error in 59 plays at that position.
Macha was joined on the All-Arizona squad by teammate Wiley, but Frost was the only Greenway player to be selected for the boys’ team. The three pitchers included Kent Hasler, Hamilton High; Cameron Ming, Sandra Day O’Connor HS; and Steve Butts, Northwest Christian.
Rounding out the remainder of the 13-man roster: catcher Dallas Riggs (Bradshaw Mtn. HS); infielders Austin Filiere (Hamilton HS); Cole Tucker (Mtn. Pointe HS), Tyler Wyatt (Liberty HS), and Matt Munsil (Scottsdale Prep.); outfielders Alex Verdugo (Sahuaro HS), Luis Gonzalez (Catalina Foothills HS), and Blake Perkins (Verrado HS); and designated hitter Xavier Terrazas (Tolleson HS).
Munsil, who also played basketball and football at Scottsdale Prep, is the Small Schools Baseball POY. The senior infielder hit .623 with 47 RBIs and posted a 1.00 ERA in the 28 innings he spent on the mound in helping the Spartans get to the state semi-finals.
Now the big question going forward for Red Mountain is whether its run of state titles can continue without Macha. The Mesa program has won five straight.
But next season, that momentum shifts to Tempe.