Rose-Hulman history: Jamie Baum becomes its first female athlete on traditionally all-male team ... baseball

Apr. 29—If you don't factor in minimum at-bat requirements, junior Jamie Baum owns the highest batting average on Rose-Hulman's baseball team this season — 1.000.

Baum has gone 1 for 1, lining a two-run single to center field in the eighth inning of a 17-7 home loss to nonconference foe Webster on April 17 at Art Nehf Field.

Considering a lot of baseball teams have substitutes who don't play often but still make the most of their limited offensive opportunities, it's not unusual to carry a 1.000 average this late in the season.

What's unique about this situation, however, is that Jamie Baum is a female.

In fact, Baum is the first woman on a traditionally all-male team in the engineering institute's history, confirmed retired Rose athletic director/baseball coach Jeff Jenkins.

Rose-Hulman didn't even begin admitting women — athletes or not — until August 1995. The female Engineers have come a long way, baby.

Fast forward back to 2024, Baum backs up senior Colter Couillard-Rodak — batting .359 with 41 runs scored and 33 runs batted in through 35 starts — at second base. So he's earned his starting role.

But on April 17, with the bases loaded and the Engineers trailing 16-5 in the bottom of the eighth, third-year Rose baseball coach Adam Rosen decided to give Baum her first chance to play college baseball. He informed her that she'd be pinch-hitting for Couillard-Rodak.

After her single, Baum was left on base when the third out occurred and she played an inning at second base in the top of the ninth, although no balls came her way.

"It was really exciting when coach Rosen told me to get ready to go into the game," Baum told the Tribune-Star. "I was obviously a little bit nervous, but I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity — and that's what I did.

"We were down by 11 runs and I was just trying to get a couple more runs in and get us a little bit closer. I still have a long way to go to earn a spot on the field as an everyday player, but obviously it was a step in the right direction. I was real excited to show what I could do in a varsity game."


A standout on the Rose-Hulman women's basketball squad during her first three seasons here, the Los Altos, Calif., native also served as a student-manager for Rosen's team during the previous two baseball campaigns.

Last summer, Baum asked Rosen if he'd let her play on the team in 2024. Rosen indicated that the tryout process generally lasts through the fall.

"During that period, for anybody who's trying out, we'll make decisions on their status," Rosen said, referring to him and his assistant coaches.

"In the fall, she participated in all the practices and intrasquad games. She was very competitive. She had the fewest strikeouts of any player on our team in the fall. She faced all of our [pitching] staff too."

Rosen's standard for making the squad?

"For us to keep you, it needs to be impactful," he explained. "That doesn't necessarily mean you're going to play every day and hit in the 4-hole. But by having you on the team, it needs to make a positive impact in whatever way that is."

Thirty-eight players passed that standard. Thirty-seven of them were young men.

"Everyone on the team was very welcoming and really excited to have me try out and eventually become part of the team," Baum said. "I'm just happy to compete and do my part. Everything is earned and I don't want anything given to me. I just love the game and I want to keep playing."

In Baum's case, she made the team for primarily two reasons — positional fit (the Engineers are somewhat thin at middle-infield depth) and her competitive nature. Rosen emphasized that the male players could tell she was/is serious about the sport.

It also helped that the veterans were familiar with her from her two seasons as a student-manager, so the transition went smoothly.

So how serious is Baum about baseball?

"She's a member of the USA women's national baseball team in the summer," Rosen pointed out. "She would practice batting and throwing with the [Rose] team even when she was a student-manager."

Power probably isn't Baum's strongpoint, but she's fundamentally sound.

"She puts balls in play," Rosen mentioned, "and she makes routine plays on defense.

"She deserved to be on the team based on her performance in the fall. She's earned the respect of her teammates based on the way she shows up every day and the way she practices. You can tell that baseball is important to her. The guys respect that.

"I think she's been a great member of the program."


Some of you might be wondering why Baum insists on playing baseball when softball — a similar sport, except for underhand pitching and other rule differences — is available for Rose-Hulman women in the spring.

"I never really played softball," she explained. "My brother [Ryan Baum] played baseball, so I had no reason or interest to switch sports."

Jamie Baum noted that she's been around baseball pretty much her whole life.

"My parents liked watching the [San Francisco] Giants on TV and they signed me up for Little League baseball when I was in kindergarten and I just fell in love with the sport," she recalled. "I've been playing it ever since."

Baum was a member of her Los Altos High School baseball team for three seasons, although the third season coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic scare in the spring of 2021. She was forced to choose between baseball and basketball and she picked basketball.

Her brother Ryan, who grew to become a 6-foot-4 pitcher, plays NCAA Division I baseball at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He's a redshirt senior for the Mustangs.

Jamie Baum didn't try out for baseball at Rose just to become its first woman to play on a traditionally all-male team.

In other words, this is no publicity stunt.

"It's been done before at other schools," she pointed out. "I have some friends from the USA women's national baseball team who are playing in college right now as well."

The Engineers were 21-14 overall before Tuesday's game at Greenville and 12-6 — tied with Anderson for third place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings — with eight games remaining in their regular season. They hope to qualify for the HCAC tournament May 9-12.

Regardless of whether Baum sees more game action or how the Engineers finish this season, she plans to try out for a spot on Rose-Hulman's baseball squad again next season.

As for the USA women's national baseball team that Rosen referenced earlier?

"I've been on the team two times before," Baum said. "Every year, you have to try out for a spot. So I'll be trying out again this summer [July 16-21]. The previous tryouts were in Minneapolis [2022] and Mesa, Ariz. [2023]. We'll be back in Minneapolis this year."

If Baum makes the USA team this year, she'll be participating in the Women's Baseball World Cup from July 28 through Aug. 3 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Other countries represented will be Canada, Venezuela, Mexico, Japan and Chinese Taipei.

"We'll be competing for a gold medal," she promised. "That's the goal this year."