Belle Vernon softball pitcher Kolowitz makes verbal commitment to St. Francis (Pa.)

Sunday, September 25, 2022 | 4:19 PM

Belle Vernon senior Olivia Kolowitz became more familiar with the recruiting game last fall when she joined the Ohio Outlaws travel softball team.

As her pitching improved on an ascending plane, so did her stock as a prospect.

Suddenly, college programs knew her name. Her mind was opened to a world of possibilities.

“My coach at the time, AJ Young, really dedicated himself to getting his players recruited,” Kolowitz said. “I was invited to pitching camps and went on college visits.”

And that led to the right-hander’s verbal commitment to St. Francis (Pa.) in Loretto.

Interest from Division I and II programs trickled in during travel season.

“St. Francis was at the top of my list,” she said. “I knew I wanted to play at a competitive program and was always told to find the right fit and go where you are want to go. St. Francis and its softball program with coach (Jessica) O’Donnell and coach (Elysse) Petrie fit both of those categories for me.”

Kolowitz had a 6-3 record with a 4.92 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and 26 walks last season for Belle Vernon, which went 12-8-1 and reached the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals.

She will be a big part of the Leopards’ plans next spring.

Belle Vernon coach Tom Rodriguez had a front-row seat to watch Kolowitz’s improvement.

“She has worked really hard since last year,” Rodriguez said. “Especially the the last four months. There is an increase in speed, more movement on her curve and screwballs, and her rise is getting better. There also is a big improvement in her change-up.

“I am sure St. Francis saw her improvements since her camp there last year versus this year.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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