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November 1, 2022

Freshmen Ava Allen and Chloe Lien Step up to the Plate

Though baseball has a long history at Menlo, softball, the female alternative to baseball, has not been offered since 2013. It is for this reason that few female students have taken part in America’s favorite pastime at Menlo, regardless of the fact that the baseball team is open to players of any gender. However, this year, freshmen Ava Allen and Chloe Lien grabbed their mitts and put on their game faces for the junior varsity baseball team. The pair defies gender norms, proving themselves repeatedly on the field and paving the way for future female players to partake in male-dominated sports at Menlo.

For Lien, the decision to try out for Menlo baseball was simple. Lien has played baseball on various teams throughout her life and considers baseball to be her primary sport. “I’ve been playing baseball for so many years now […] so I think I’m pretty much used to being one of the only girls on my baseball team,” Lien said.

For Allen, the decision to play Menlo baseball stemmed from a desire to continue playing something similar to softball, a sport Allen participates in outside of school, despite Menlo’s lack of a softball program. Also, when making the decision to play, Allen believed that this could be one of the experiences that shapes her Menlo career and helps her in aspects of her life beyond Menlo and baseball, like learning how to be part of a team and making friends with the opposite sex.

Allen, who joined the team a couple of weeks late because of her participation in Menlo girls basketball, initially found that assimilating to a new team was difficult. According to Allen, she was joining a team where she was unfamiliar with the majority of the players after coming from the girls basketball team where she played with many of her closest friends.

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However, both Lien and Allen said that they have experienced kindness and respect from the players and coaches on the team despite the unique circumstances. On and off the field, Lien believes that she has been included in everything, regardless of her gender.

Freshman Parker Smith feels that some members of the team were initially surprised by Lien and Allen’s involvement, but believes they have performed incredibly well so far this season. Smith also believes that having a multi-gendered team adds to the inclusive team dynamic they’ve built this season. “I think it’s great to have a mix of guys and girls on the team; it makes the team chemistry a lot more fun,” Smith said.

JV assistant coach Robert Lopez also believes that having Lien and Allen on the team contributes to the cohesion of the team this season. “Everyone’s had a really good relationship, and it seems like they all get along,” Lopez said. Lopez has also observed that this team seems to be less “cliquey” than teams he’s coached or played on in the past.

Lopez believes that one of the obvious differences between Lien and Allen and the rest of the team is their smaller size. However, he feels that one of the unique aspects of baseball is that size doesn’t directly translate to skill, and Lien and Allen have been prime examples of this. “They both play really strong, really great baseball,” Lopez said.

Both Lien and Allen plan on participating in Menlo baseball every year at Menlo and hope to advance within the program. Their involvement in Menlo baseball opens the door for other female players both in baseball and other male-dominated fields at Menlo.

This story was originally published on The Coat of Arms on May 4, 2024.