(Photo: Michael Barron/WCSN)

One of them was born and raised in Arizona and dreamt of pitching at ASU since she was a bat girl for the team at age 9.

The other got here by chance from Downers Grove, Ill. after she got hurt and became a forgotten recruit by the school she committed to.

Although they took very different paths to get here, Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak are now junior starting pitchers trying to lead No. 23 Arizona State softball back to national prominence.

Ryndak and Macha are the top two starters on ASU’s pitching staff and have 1.54 and 1.75 ERAs, respectively, both among the top 10 for starting pitchers in the Pac-12.

The duo has a good dynamic both on and off the field, which helps them perform on gamedays.

“We’ve been close ever since we got here,” Macha said. “[Dale] is very hard not to get along with. She’s a funny person, a very good friend, and it is nice to have that competitive personality but I think we get along so much more than just our competitive spirits on the field.”

“When we attack hitters, I get so much information from her,” Ryndak said. “I’m studying her film, I’m studying her spray chart when she throws on Fridays and that just makes me better for Sunday.”

Both of them knew they would have to step into bigger roles this season after the team’s top starter in 2016, Kelsey Kessler, graduated. But with each other to rely on, they have made a successful transition into leading the pitching staff thus far.

“I feel like we’ve both had those roles before in the past, even if it was club ball high school,” Macha said. “So, I think we really kind of stepped up this year and tried to own it.”

“We pretty equally share everything,” Ryndak said. “It’s such an equal balance, and I think that’s really hard to find. There’s just never any tension, we do things so well on our own that it just takes care of itself off the field.”

In addition to their own pitching, ASU head coach Trisha Ford has made it a point for both Macha and Ryndak to mentor freshman pitchers Alyssa Loza and Giselle Juarez. Loza has only given up one earned run in 20 innings pitched this season, while Juarez has already established a spot in the rotation.

“We took the freshman underneath our wings this year and we’ve always had conversations with them trying to prepare them for their role,” Macha said.

Ryndak went a step further, noting the value of her and Macha being there to guide them through their early years of Division I softball.

“I wish I had seniors who were pitchers who I could look up to,” Ryndak said. “They’re getting incredible coaching and they have girls to look up to and ask questions, I think they’re going to be better than [Breanna] and I. When they get older and when they’re senior, they’re going to have better numbers than I do.”

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