There is no down time for Kyle Davidson when she puts on her catcher's gear for the University of Dayton softball team.
The 2015 Olentangy Orange High School graduate always is taking mental notes of the situation at hand. She'll observe things such as the umpire's strike zone, the swing of opposing hitters and what is working well for her pitcher.
Her mind still is working when she returns to the dugout. She'll study the opposing pitcher's game plan and delivery to the plate, and any other weaknesses from which she can gain an advantage.
Paying attention to those details has helped Davidson show continued improvement with the Flyers. As a junior this spring, she led the team in batting average (.351), hits (61), on-base percentage (.416), runs (39), doubles (19) and stolen bases (17-for-17). She also had two home runs and 21 RBI.
"Making sure I know the umpire's zone is a big help," said Davidson, who batted .233 as a freshman and .317 as a sophomore. "I see how pitchers throw the ball and knowing their movement always helps. I have an idea of how the pitchers might approach me. I don't always know what's coming, but it helps to have an idea from what I would do calling a game."
Coach Cara LaPlaca trusts Davidson to call pitches for the Flyers, who finished 31-25 overall this spring.
"Kyle is probably one of the best catchers and one of the elite players that I have been able to work with," said LaPlaca, whose team finished third (15-8) in the Atlantic 10 Conference behind Massachusetts (21-0) and Fordham (18-4). "She always looks a couple of plays ahead, and she knows what we have to do to attack a lineup. She is really mature in the way she looks at the game.
"In order to have a catcher call pitches, she has to be mature and knowledgeable about the game. Kyle has demonstrated that she is more than capable (of calling pitches) and she's able to evolve with the game. She is able to make adjustments as needed."
Davidson was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association second-team all-region selection in Division I this past season. She also earned first-team and all-academic honors in the Atlantic 10.
She repeated both league honors from her sophomore season and was on the A10's all-freshman team.
As a senior at Orange, Davidson was second-team all-state and first-team all-district.
"Catching is probably the most important part of my game because I need to be working with the pitchers and getting the fielders in position," Davidson said. "You have to know the personalities of all of the pitchers and what works for them. Catching is the biggest part, and batting is a bonus.
"I call games; it's one of my favorite thing to do. I like understanding what a batter's weakness is and what the pitcher's strength is. Our coaches scout opponents and we go over a batter's preferences. We talk about what is best and put together a game plan. That's a tentative plan. If we see something that needs to be changed, we'll do that."
Just like the plan can change during a game, roles can change during the course of a season. Davidson began her junior season batting second, but was moved to the leadoff spot near the midway point.
"Moving to leadoff was different because I had never done that before, and it's a different mentality," she said. "You're not only trying to get on base and start things off, but you want to see as many pitches as you can, which helps out your teammates. I ended up loving batting first. There is a lot of adrenaline because you are the table-setter."
Although Davidson excels behind the plate, no catcher is able to start every game. With that in mind, LaPlaca will be working with Davidson during the fall to learn other positions around the diamond.
"We have a good catcher (Abby Ehrenborg) behind her and we want to keep (Davidson) in the lineup," LaPlaca said. "We're looking at anywhere from first base to the outfield. Getting her on the field is an extension of the coaching staff. You can't have that if she is a designated player. Having her help us out in a variety of ways is important as a group."
Davidson is majoring in political science with a minor in history. She has a 3.6 GPA and is planning to attend law school.
"We like to say that we're just playing softball, but obviously it is a higher caliber and faster pace (than in high school)," Davidson said. "The mental aspect is so much more. You have to be able to cope with the competition while also balancing your school and social life.
"This season, I just decided to have more fun and do what I could to help the team. That helped with the mental aspect. I have been having a ton of fun both softball-(wise) and school-wise. We have a great group and I have loved every minute of it."