Designed by Liz Cornell.

Lehigh club baseball: It’s for women too


On any given Thursday afternoon of last semester, passersby of a grassy lot on Goodman Campus were met with a unique scene: two first-year women playing baseball alongside dozens of men.

It’s a testament to the women’s skills, but it’s also one of their only options.

Club softball isn’t offered at Lehigh. For women who aren’t recruited to play for the varsity softball team, a choice must be made — join the male-dominated baseball team or don’t play.

But for the two women on the team, Becca Salsburg-Frank and Taylor Gomez, baseball has never been foreign to them. Both grew up playing the sport from a young age and both were used to being the only girls on their teams.

At least at Lehigh they have each other.

“I grew up playing little league baseball,” Salsburg-Frank said. “When I was about seven, all of the other girls switched to softball, but I just stayed. Since then, I’ve always been the only girl among a bunch of guys.”

When Salsburg-Frank arrived at Lehigh last fall, she never even asked about a club softball team. She said she simply assumed that there would be a club baseball team and that she would join it. Salsburg-Frank was pleasantly surprised when she signed up for baseball at the club fair without any inquiry from members of the team or the Athletics Department staff.

Gomez had a similar experience.

“At the club sports fair, I signed up for baseball, and they thought it was pretty cool,” Gomez said. “They were like ‘Oh cool, another girl signed up too!’ and I was like, ‘Awesome, I’m not the only one!’ There was never any issue with me signing up.”

Gomez switched from baseball to softball in her sophomore year of high school, and when applying to colleges, she considered pursuing softball at the varsity level. After deciding on Lehigh, a school by which she was not recruited, Gomez still wanted softball to play a role in her life. However, when browsing her options of club sports, she settled for baseball.

Neither Salsburg-Frank nor Gomez ever questioned why a club softball team wasn’t available to students. If they had, they would have been met with a simple answer.

“We had one field, we still really only have one field,” said Barb Turanchik, the director of club sports. “Where do you put people to play softball when you have one field and the varsity team uses it?”

Lehigh Athletics recently built a new softball complex on Goodman Campus, which means there is a possibility the old field could be available to a club softball team in the future. However, Turanchik said there are two questions that must be answered before a club softball team is formed: Is it feasible for the university to maintain double the amount of fields, and is there enough interest among the student body?

“In my eight years, we’ve probably had two women who tried to get a team together, and they never were successful,” Turanchik said. “They couldn’t even form a team of nine girls.”

Turanchik attributes this lack of interest to a lack of preparedness. She thinks most women don’t come to school with their mitts, catching gear or batting gloves.

When it comes to a lack of fields, Turanchik said that club baseball faces the same issue. The team plays as much as it can indoors or on turf fields to practice, but it hasn’t played a home game in the past two years.

Nevertheless, Salsburg-Frank and Gomez consider the club baseball team a good option for any woman trying to improve her skills or have some fun.

“At first it was a little intimidating because (Salsburg-Frank) and I were obviously the smallest people on the team, but once everyone got to know each other, it was a lot easier,” Gomez said.

This doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced their fair share of discrimination throughout their baseball careers. In high school, the athletic director told Salsburg-Frank she would have to switch to softball. After her dad did some research and threatened to pursue a Title IX lawsuit, the athletic director backed down. Although Salsburg-Frank was eventually given permission to play on the baseball team, she can’t help but notice this was never something her brother had to go through.

“I know my brother got a lot more opportunities than I did growing up, and it obviously still shows now because I’m not as good as I could’ve been,” Salsburg-Frank said.

She said her lack of opportunity may be the reason she sometimes receives less playing time than other members of the club baseball team.

“My thinking is, I’ve had to deal with this my entire life,” Salsburg-Frank said, “and even though it’s annoying, that’s just how it is when you’re a girl who plays baseball.”

As for Gomez, an umpire once told her his daughter switched to softball, and he thought Gomez would be much happier if she switched too.

Gomez said she forced a polite smile and responded in the only way she knew how: “Well that’s good for her.”

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