Last Updated: Wed Apr 26, 2023 - 12:03PM
Although she enjoyed great success on the diamond at Yough High School, Kaylyn Odelli was one of countless student athletes who had to navigate the difficulties of the recruiting process during the height of COVID. She has found a home at John Carroll University, though, and has been a regular in the lineup in her sophomore season. Odelli is under the microscope in the latest edition of the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.
Odelli cracked the varsity lineup at Yough as a freshman shortstop in 2018, as she helped the Cougars achieve a mark of 16-5, including a perfect 12-0 in section play. In the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs, Yough knocked off Indiana Area, but fell to Elizabeth Forward in the semifinals. With a trip to the state playoffs on the line, the Cougars lost to Mount Pleasant Area in the consolation game.
The following year, Odelli played in every game for the Cougars, as she hit .172 with 11 runs, five RBIs, and six stolen bases. Collectively, the Cougars went 13-6, including 8-2 in the section. Back in the WPIAL Class 4A postseason, Yough defeated Central Valley, but fell to Thomas Jefferson in the quarterfinals.
Odelli’s junior season was wiped out by COVID.
Back on the field as a senior in 2021, Odelli helped lead Yough to a record of 11-6, including 7-5 in section play. The Cougars ousted Freeport Area in the WPIAL 4A playoffs, but came up short against Beaver Area in the quarterfinals to conclude the season.
Odelli, who also played volleyball and basketball at Yough, elected to continue her career in softball at John Carroll University.
Joining the Blue Streaks as a catcher last season, Odelli played in 21 games, including nine starts. During that action, she hit .222 with 10 runs, six RBIs, and one homer. JCU went 14-15-2 overall, including 7-10-1 in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).
This season, Odelli has developed into a utility player, seeing time at a variety of positions. In 28 games, all starts, she’s batting .279 with 15 runs, 11 RBIs, one home run, and eight steals. With less than two weeks left in the regular season, the Blue Streaks are 14-14 overall, including 4-10 in the OAC.
Kaylyn took time from her schedule to answer questions about her defensive versatility, her decision to attend John Carroll, and her favorite vacation spot.
Q: After playing a reserve role last year, you have started every game thus far in 2023. What have been the biggest keys in your development?
A: Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of playing time last year because I reinjured my knee in the outfield during a rainy game that ended up being canceled after it started due to field conditions. I did get to return and saw some playing time before the season was over, but it definitely wasn’t the season that I anticipated. I put in a lot of work in the offseason to recover, and I am just happy to be back in the field, to be honest!
Q: What is an underrated aspect of your game?
A: Many times, I’ve been underrated as a hitter and catcher because of my size.
Q: You have played several different positions at John Carroll, including catcher, middle infield, and outfield. Where do you feel most comfortable, and how have you developed your defensive versatility?
A: I’ve always been glad to play anywhere my coaches have needed me to play, but catching is definitely my passion, and the position I feel most confident playing. In my lifetime, I have played every position, including a softball and baseball pitcher! During my freshman year of high school, I started the season at shortstop because that is where my coach thought he needed me, but thankfully, I moved into catching. For travel softball, I was always preferred as a middle infielder or outfielder, until they saw me behind the plate, where I always earned the catching spot. I started catching as a baseball player before I ever played softball. I was a lot smaller than most of the boys sliding into home, so maybe that helped me become a stronger and quicker player. Once I started playing travel softball, I mostly played on teams that were older than me because they played more competitively, and that’s what I preferred.
Q: What was the most enjoyable part of your season-opening trip to Florida?
A: I love going to Florida to play, and I was lucky to even get to do that in high school. I love the sun, the heat, and of course, playing softball!
Q: What team and individual goals did you set for this season?
A: One personal and team goal for me was to help make John Carroll’s softball program better. There have been a lot of good changes, and I think we are on the right track and surprising a lot of people. Another personal goal for me was to earn a starting spot. While I mentioned that I absolutely prefer catching, I really just wanted to be put on the field every game.
Q: What led to your decision to attend John Carroll?
A: I’ve always had the goal of playing college softball, but I also knew that it was more important to get the education that I wanted. Division I obviously was very attractive to me growing up, but really was only for athletic reasons. My recruitment process was very frustrating because of COVID. I did establish a couple of relationships at the DI and DII levels, and even had scholarship offers, including an athletic scholarship offer with a DII school. I was thankful for these options, but nothing really matched my academic interests. After meeting an assistant coach at a summer tournament, I did a lot of homework on John Carroll University. John Carroll seemed to offer the prestigious education that I desired and offered the programs I wanted. All of the students seemed successful after graduation and goal-oriented like myself. Also, John Carroll recognized and accepted my high school credits, which allowed room in my schedule to either graduate early or work on multiple disciplines. Everything just finally felt right.
Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?
A: I am majoring in data science and pursuing two minors, one in computer science and another in mathematics. I am currently enjoying my data analyst internship with the Cleveland Clinic, and I was offered a paid position to continue working with them this summer. It’s very broad and complicated to explain exactly what I do because I work with big data, but it involves a lot of number crunching, coding, and problem solving, which is exactly what I hope to continue after graduation!
Q: What has been your most challenging college course?
A: Several, but it is rewarding to complete them. It is a lot of pressure to maintain my grades so that I don’t lose my academic scholarships. If I had to choose, I would definitely say Computer Science 229. I knew going into it that it was going to be a challenge, and a lot of my classmates actually dropped the class, even some dropped the major. I dedicated many long nights to it and endured a professor change part way through the course.
Q: You attended Yough High School. What was your fondest memory there?
A: I would have to say that it is our playoff game my freshman year against Mount Pleasant at Seton Hill. I think there was a lot of talent on the field that day, and I honestly have never seen so many people at a softball game before. It was unbelievably loud and a tight game, one which unfortunately ended in a loss. I had an eye-opening conversation with now Coach Allie Harvey after that game. It changed my view about the game, and she gave me the confidence to step up my game more.
Q: What were the best qualities of your high school coach Dutch Harvey?
A: I appreciated that Coach Dutch played the best, and if you messed up, he didn’t sugar coat it. You earned your playing time - period. I enjoy hearing all about Coach Dutch and Yough’s team these days from my two younger sisters who also play: Kylee, who is a freshman, and Kierstin, who is in eighth grade.
Q: Who was the best player you faced in high school?
A: I’d have to say the best player who I saw in high school was Bailey Parshall in 2018. I was a freshman while she was a senior, and we beat them both times in tight games during the regular season. I didn’t hit very well off of her the first time around, but was able to pick it up the next time around and put the ball in play.
Q: If you could change one rule about college softball, what would it be?
A: I would change the 90 second rule between innings. I don’t think that is enough time for the pitcher to loosen up. I would like at least 30 extra seconds in between so that everyone can get set. When the umpires are really strict about that rule, I feel like everyone starts to rush and become anxious.
Q: To which movie or TV show can you recite nearly every line?
A: I wish I had an answer to this, but I actually do not watch TV or movies.
Q: What is your favorite vacation spot, or a place you've always wanted to visit?
A: I absolutely love the mountains. It doesn’t even matter which ones - they are all fun to explore and I just love the outdoors in general! I like to hike, fish, and hunt up north in the Allegheny National Forest. I will run to the cabin at any free moment I have.