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Phillies hold Ballgirl tryouts

Phillies hold Ballgirl tryouts for 2008 season

PHILADELPHIA -- They entered the batting-cage area one by one, prepared to showcase their fielding and throwing skills.

Then came the laser-like grounders hit at them.

"Wow, this is serious," one woman said.

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That's a great way to describe the responsibility involved with becoming a Phillies Ballgirl. After a record 600-plus women applied -- more than double the amount last year -- 100 were selected to try out on Friday at Citizens Bank Park.

The tryouts included tests on the candidates' physical abilities as well as knowledge of baseball and interpersonal skills. In addition to displaying their on-field skills, the participants were interviewed on camera.

About 10 women will be named a Phillies Ballgirl around Thanksgiving, and they will all be participating in the team's holiday sale on Dec. 8.

"Last year, our organization embraced this whole idea and they gave us all the support to do it again," said Michele DeVicaris, coordinator of Phillies events. "Being a Phillies Ballgirl is an amazing experience and it's one with a lot of responsibility. You're representing the entire Phillies organization as well as all women in sports. The organization supports it and the response from the candidates has been amazing."

The tryouts were divided into three groups: 9-11 a.m.; 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; and 1:30-3:30 p.m.

As the bulk of the first group was finishing up and sent upstairs, they met some of the early arrivals in the second group.

"Good luck," one participant said to another arriving. "It's serious in there. It's a lot of fun."

It sure was.

"My jaw dropped when I heard there were over 600 candidates," said Nicole Murtaugh, a junior at Gloucester County (N.J.) Junior College. "Even if I don't make it as a Ballgirl, I'll know it was an accomplishment in itself to be invited. Ironically, I mailed in my resume and package and I didn't even know I had made it until I talked to one of my friends who said I should check my e-mail. I checked my e-mail and found out I made it. It was very exciting."

The whole experience has been exciting for Christy Oakes, a 24-year-old fourth-grade teacher at Evans Elementary School in Marlton, N.J. Oakes played softball at Haddonfield High School and has always been a huge Phillies fan, especially of second baseman Chase Utley.

"I used to go to the Phillies games at the Vet with my family, and I have two brothers," Oakes said. "This is exciting to be here. I feel really fortunate because I've had the chance to meet so many people. If I'm picked, I would be so excited. I'm really happy right now."

Jennifer Wolf is a nursing major as a sophomore at the College of New Jersey. For one year, she'll be thrilled to put a nursing career on hold to become a Phillies Ballgirl.

"It would be an honor to be named," said Wolf, who attended Holy Spirit High School near Atlantic City. "This whole experience has been amazing. I watch just about all of the Phillies games and I'm a huge fan. I like Chase Utley because he's such a hard worker and he portrays himself so well on camera."

Being asked questions on camera was even more challenging for some participants than the tests of their physical skills on the field.

"It's not easy to come up with quick answers sometimes," said Sparta, N.J., resident Christy Gordon, who's finishing up her role as a Phillies Ballgirl. "It can be tough if you have to wait around. I tell the girls to treat this as a cool experience. It was a dream come true for me. It was more incredible than I ever could have imagined. The year has gone so fast. I wish I could be here longer."

Tabitha Trent, 22, sure hopes she will be a Phillies Ballgirl for the next year. Trent grew up in Illinois and moved to West Chester, Pa., right before high school.

"A couple of months ago I was thinking about it, and a friend said to go for it and apply, so I did," said Trent, a senior at West Chester University and the head softball coach at West Chester Henderson High School. "It would mean a lot to be picked. It's been a whole lot of fun."

Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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