How Mia Davidson broke out as starting catcher in 2023

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Sarah Smith
Savanna Collins
Sep 13, 2023

In Mia Davidson’s rookie season, she found ways on the field and into the lineup.

Throughout 2022, she started 12 games as the designated player, played 13 innings in right field, and seven at first base. But she only had two innings as a catcher — her true position. In 2023, Davidson became one of the staple catchers in Athletes Unlimited Softball, logging 94 innings behind the plate in the 2023 Championship season and 56 at AUX.

She is one of few in the league’s history to break into one of the most challenging positions and earn a consistent starting spot. A full year of intentional training, dedication, and opportunities led to Davidson achieving her goals as a professional catcher in just her second year as a pro. And it started where few can see: the bullpen.

Despite playing a handful of innings as a catcher, Davidson was one of the most consistent catchers to gear up when a pitcher needed to throw a bullpen.

“Her willingness to put in the extra work, getting to know pitchers … She’s a yes person, she’ll never say no,” is how pitcher Peyton St. George described Davidson’s commitment during her rookie year.

AU Softball has seen its share of pitcher-catcher duos. Most remember Cat Osterman drafting Gwen Svekis with her No. 1 pick every week in the inaugural season. Or Danielle O’Toole and Sashel Palacios’ friendship that translated to strategy on the field. But most catchers rotate with new pitching staffs every week, making relationship-building paramount because when you’re facing the best hitters in the world, there has to be trust.

“Mia catching so many different pitchers, she knows where they miss and she knows how to call them,” St. George said. Many AU pitchers don’t throw much during the week, giving their bodies and arms time to rest. When they were ready, Davidson was waiting to say yes.

Mia Davidson meets with pitcher Megan Faraimo in the circle. The battery established a close bond as friends on and off the field competing with Team USA.

Davidson’s development continued after the 2022 season when she was named to the 15-player Women’s National Team roster set to represent Team USA at the 2022 Pan American Games where she competed with five other AU pitchers including Odicci Alexander, Alyssa Denham, Mariah Mazon, Rachel Garcia, and 2023 newcomer Megan Faraimo.

“We worked really well together, just how we communicated on and off. Like every inning, we would go in and talk about what we saw with certain batters and if we didn’t agree we respected each other and would say, ‘That’s okay, let’s try this.’ It’s all about knowing that what you call, they’ll trust that it’s gonna work,” Davidson said.

Trust in Davidson’s pitch calling means sometimes putting faith in the untraditional. St. George brought up a game where Davidson called three change-ups in a row. “I love throwing her because she doesn’t get into patterns … She does things that are very out of the ordinary. She loves to play cat and mouse with the hitters.”

Davidson recalls that sequence well. “I was like, why not? Sure, see what happens. They haven’t been on time yet so if they are on time good for them,” she laughed.

Months of growth led to the first draft of the 2023 AUX season. With her seventh pick, captain Morgan Zerkle drafted Davidson as the first catcher to her team and on the opening day of games, called her number to start. It was the beginning of Davidson’s establishment as a top catcher and the first step of her climb up the leaderboard. She finished the first series ranked fifth overall and then fourth after the second series. Davidson closed out the season in third place, medaling for the first time in her AU career.

Where Davidson had previously been drafted for her bat (and rightfully so) she was now being picked to teams for her all-around contribution and ability to call a game.

“I knew I was a good hitter and a good catcher. [It was] just actually putting it into action and showing it and having the confidence to come in here and [say], ‘Alright, I’m just gonna give it all. Whatever happens, happens.’ I think I matured in that way.”

Mia Davidson has an emotional response to her first win as a captain in her home state of North Carolina. AU competed in Greenville at the Little League World Series.

Her upped draft stock and starting spot carried over into Championship season, where she was consistently picked in the early third and fourth rounds until she was the one choosing her own team. Davidson was a captain for the first time in Week Three and stayed in the top four to be a captain again in Week Four.

Amongst working on framing and learning new strategies for pitch calling, there was a moment working with veteran catcher Taylor Edwards that stuck out most to Davidson and encapsulated how she needed to progress as a player. Multiple weeks in her rookie year she played behind Edwards and would pick her brain about what she called and why during. Edwards told Davidson that while she accounts for the pitcher’s strengths and the batter at the plate, sometimes it just comes down to her gut. It was about trusting yourself to make the right call.

Davidson swipes to tag out Delanie Wisz on a throw to home.

Davidson could develop her skills all offseason but she also had to shake the doubt and stop the overthinking. “I feel like it’s all about trusting what you know and if you have confidence in it, you can’t regret calling it,” Davidson explained. “But now I’m like, you know what if I call it, I believe every single ounce she’s gonna throw this best pitch right here.”

Coming into the summer of competition, Davidson said that she didn’t want to be defined as a hitter who catches but instead known as a catcher who hits. She feels like she’s there now.

“It’s pretty impressive knowing that people now trust me to catch … I think that’s probably the best. I really take pride in that.” Laughing, she added, “Especially when we win.”


Savanna Collins is the Digital Media Reporter at Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her on Twitter @savannaecollins.

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