Dec 21, 2021

All great teams have a great catcher. During my 17 years at UL, we basically had four catchers that literally caught every game for 15 years AND hit in the 3, 4 or 5 hole in the line-up. The “MIGHTY FOUR”: Joy Webre (2002-2005), Lana Bowers (2007-2010), Sarah Drahiem (2010-2013) and Lexi Elkins (2014-2016) —the best of the best.

In this article, we are going to start and end with SWING MECHANICS and BARREL ALIGNMENT, and in the middle we will add some “lagniappe” by defining the CHARACTERISTICS OF GREAT CATCHERS and watch these four’s swing mechanics. Let’s start by WATCHING THE SWING ANALYSIS (below) comparing Lana Bowers to Dan Uggla which was done in 2006.

We were already thinking about and measuring swing alignment, barrel path, matching the plane of the pitch, getting inside of the ball, etc. in 2006.

Secondly, all of our comparisons were being done side by side, slow motion, high speed video — most times using MLB players as our swing “models”. (An article on “adjustments for riseballs” is coming soon).


The above analysis gives us great talking points when looking at our hitter’s alignment:

  1. The trajectory & path of the swing is CRITICAL;
  2. If a hitter’s timing is not exact, are they still able to create a “window” along the pitch path in order to be effective with different points of contact?;
  3. staying on plane or on line with the barrel or parallel to the line as long as bat speed is maintained;
  4. having a “hooking” or circular hand path that corresponds with rotation;
  5. NO EMPHASIS ON THE FINISH OF THE SWING; more problems and issues are caused from a hitter trying to “roll over” to finish; FINISH IS THE WRONG FOCUS even though every TV commentator notices it;
  6. the positioning & movement of the lead arm;
  7. what the shoulders are doing — what movements & in which planes of motion;
  8. where is the hitter’s posture at toe touch; which direction is the center of mass moving?; and
  9. is the path of the barrel ALIGNED from launch through contact?
Ted Williams illustrating “hooking” hand path or a circular hand path that follows the rotation.



During my 17 years at UL, we basically had four (4) catchers that literally caught every game for 15 years. Joy Webre (2002-2005), Lana Bowers (2007-2010), Sarah Drahiem (2010-2013), Lexi Elkins (2014-2016).

Joy was the prototype of every catcher we recruited at UL. Believe it or not, she NEVER played catcher BEFORE committing to UL; she was a shortstop. When we signed Joy, Alaina Addison was our All-American shortstop and had one more year of eligibility, so Joy agreed to covert from shortstop to catcher. That selfless attitude is one of the major attributes of any great catcher.

Joy is from Denham Springs, LA and is the daughter of Chuck & Katrina Webre. Joy caught 248 games during her career – 60 games in 2002 (her freshman season) & 68 games in 2004.

In the 2003 WCWS, she threw out UCLA’s Natasha Whatley trying to steal. We had an opening at catcher in 2002 and Joy agreed to convert from SS & was so good at it, never switched back.

Here is a video clip of an at bat where Joy struck out in the 2003 WCWS – (because UL did not archive softball video, even when we were in postseason, so SWING ATTRACTORS is now attempting to archive as many of those “magical moments” to use later as teaching/learning tools and also to preserve/document for those players’ future generations to enjoy & appreciate their contributions to the game).

Joy “tagged” the first pitch she saw from Osterman; Joy was a smart, all around hitter with power and speed. Her first swing is illustrative of her talent and ability; just a little early/“anxious” and I love the coverage by ESPN. BTW, she got hosed on strike 3; that pitch was in the other batter’s box; that was a big moment in that game too; that makes it that much more impressive to me how good of a hitter you had to be back then with single wall, aluminum bats and HUGE STRIKE ZONES.


These are the attributes Joy possessed (& so did Lana, Sarah & Lexi), and what we wanted in all of our catchers — physically, mentally & competitively:

  1. athletic, strong —5’10 or so, but nimble with great footwork and moved like a SS;
  2. strong arm with a quick, great throwing motion – nobody was going to run on them;
  3. great, power hitters with home run power who could bat in the middle of the line-up;
  4. very smart & softball savvy in order to call the game & know the adjustments; be a leader to be able to set & call defensive alignments;
  5. control & defend & neutralize the opponents speed: including the short game- bunt game, slap game, 1st & 3rd, hit & run, etc.
  6. fierce competitors- hated to lose, fought for every inch on every pitch, blocked every ball in the dirt, & took a lot of pride in being the very best;
  7. tough (physically & mentally) – back then we played back to back days of double headers in the heat of summer & they caught every pitch in every inning in every game and remained alert & enthusiastic EVERY PITCH;
  8. selfLESS —worried about the pitchers more than themselves, and could manage and babysit the personalities & egos of a pitching staff;
  9. great communicators — to be able to communicate to the coaching staff and be the buffer/intermediary between the personalities & dynamics of a game: the umpires, the pitcher, the opposing batter and our coaching staff; and
  10. students of the game — every one of these catchers COACHED AT UL afterwards to teach the “next one” and to maintain the standard of excellence at the catching position; furthermore, each one has stayed involved in the game of softball as a Coach or administrator at the highest levels.

Lana was 5’10” too; the daughter of Doyle and Cheryl Bowers. Lana caught 50 games in her freshman season of 2007 and 58 games in 2009. The video below is of her 3-run HOME run in the 2008 Houston SUPER REGIONALS to help us win game # 1, 6-4.

Sarah is the daughter of Stephanie Drahiem; she is 6’0” and now a Cross-Fit guru/competitor and just had a mural painted of her at her high school. Sarah caught 58 games in 2012 & 62 games her senior season in 2013. Sarah is a NFCA All-American her senior season. Sarah’s memorable home run was against Michigan in the NCAA SUPERS in Ann Arbor (WATCH VIDEO OF HR vs MICHIGAN & WATCH her 2012 SUPER REGIONAL HR vs ARIZONA STATE/Dallas Escobedo).
See Lexi’s own personal highlight reel under “Cajuns Top Hitters” on the SWING ATTRACTORS SITE.
Lexi is from Victoria, TX and transferred to UL after her freshman season at Texas Tech, and is the daughter of Jason & Tammy Elkins.

Haley Lee, the All-American catcher at Texas A&M (2019-present) was a UL Softball commit until the coaching change in the Fall of 2017 then changed her commitment to A&M. She came to our hitting camps when she was in high school and we nicknamed her “Baby Elkins” (Check out the side by side of Haley and Lexi and SEE WHY). Haley fit our catcher’s mold PERFECTLY and would’ve made it the MIGHTY 5; such a fierce competitor.


Let’s talk hitting. Good catchers should be great power hitters IMO. Because they SEE SO MANY PITCHES (different spins, different releases and so much volume/quantity), their pitch recognition data base is better than anybody else’s. And they have great hand-eye skills to catch and frame each pitch so precisely. And great reaction skills to block &/or adjust to any pitch that goes off course. Catchers, like hitters, have to make a lot of good, right decisions pitch after pitch after pitch.

In this article we are discussing ALIGNMENT: the relationship of (1) the bottom arm, (2) the shoulder line, (3) posture, & (4) the barrel.

Early on, we figured out that acceleration TO THE BALL was most critical. We wanted that .005 (1/2 of a millisecond) to be the PERFECT COLLISION. There was/is too much WRONG EMPHASIS on how a hitter should “finish” his/her swing and what the “follow through” should look like &/or feel like. Applying force post-contact is flawed.

Every championship team has a selfless, tough minded, talented championship catcher. These mighty 4 (5) set the “gold standard” and worked tirelessly in a learning environment to grow and develop into the very best AND influence those around them to “pursue excellence”!