Recruiting Thursday: Belle Vernon's Kolowitz chooses Saint Francis

The Leopards hurler struck out 70 batters last spring

Thu Oct 20, 2022 - 2:32PM

Jack Ridenour Jack Ridenour

Last Updated: Thu Oct 20, 2022 - 10:52PM

Travel softball plays a major part in the development and exposure of student-athletes who want to compete at the collegiate level. Olivia Kolowitz is a prime example of a player who not only saw improvement on the field, but also an increase of college attention.

After catching the eyes of many college coaches, the Belle Vernon Area senior ultimately decided to commit to the Red Flash of St. Francis University.

“It feels really great; it’s an opportunity I’ve been really looking forward to,” the Leopards pitcher mentioned about being able to play softball at the NCAA Division I level.

Kolowitz began her travel softball career at the age of 12, and it was then that she became inspired to pursue a collegiate softball career. Her recruitment skyrocketed last fall after playing with the Ohio Outlaws.

Her coach, AJ Young, was instrumental in helping her develop her pitching, which sparked her college recruitment.

“I’m really thankful for my coaches that helped me, and my parents who helped me travel and spent their time and money,” Kolowitz commented.

As the recruiting picked up, Kolowitz found herself visiting various schools to get a feel for what would be a good fit, as both a student and an athlete. After touring different universities at the NCAA Division I and II levels, she fell in love with St. Francis and everything it had to offer.

“I just really loved the atmosphere there,” she said about what ultimately led her to commit to the Red Flash. “You can tell the staff and the coaches cared about you as a person first and as an athlete second. I just really appreciated that.”

With her college decision made, Kolowitz can redirect her attention on the upcoming softball season at Belle Vernon. The Leopards are coming off a season in which they finished 12-8-1 overall and made an appearance in the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals.

Kolowitz had a strong season in the pitcher’s circle this past spring. The righty posted a 4.92 ERA and notched 70 strikeouts with 26 walks and a 6-3 record.

Kolowitz and the Leopards started to put the pieces together midway through the 2022 season. After losing to Elizabeth Forward on April 25, Belle Vernon went 7-3 through its final 10 games of the season to make a push for the playoffs.

“I think communication’s a really big part of it,” Kolowitz mentioned as the key for her team during that stretch. “All being on the same page, all being positive, motivating each other - that’s just a really big part of it.”

After taking down New Castle in the first round of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs 10-5, the Leopards suffered a 1-0 loss to Burrell in the quarterfinals.

Despite the setback to end last season, Kolowitz feels that her team is more than capable of bouncing back this year and having similar success.

“I can really see some great things happening this year. I really want to win our section this year, and I think we can make a run for the WPIALs this year, too,” she noted on her team’s goals

Kolowitz is excited to get back on the field and to compete with her team for one final season at Belle Vernon. She’s eager to compete for a championship, but she also wants to make sure her Leopards are left in good hands when she’s off competing for the Red Flash.

“Having fun on the field and working with the freshman, too,” said Kolowitz on what she’s looking forward to in the spring. “The underclassmen have been really great this year, and I’m excited to see everyone’s talent come and shine.”