BRIDGEWATER, NJ – When most high school sophomores pick up a microphone to sing, it’s not typically before a crowd of 5,000. But Pine Brook resident Abigail Seewald did just that, singing the National Anthem before the Aug. 23 Somerset Patriots baseball game at TD Bank Ballpark.

Seewald, who has been taking classes at a local fine arts school since she was in fourth grade, was one of 14 winners of a contest that the Patriots held back in March to find anthem singers for the ball team’s home games. One hundred people entered the contest held at Bridgewater Commons mall, which the Seewald family found out about from a family friend, and Abby auditioned with a one and a half minute-long song. Singers were judged on “vocal talent, stage presence, and their ability to perform before the crowd” that gathered at center court at the mall, according to a Patriots’ release. The $10 contest entry fee was donated to Operation Shoebox New Jersey, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to collecting donated supplies to ship care packages to U.S. troops based overseas.

Seewald sang the song “Shenandoah” for her audition.

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“We were allowed to sing any song – but we couldn’t sing the National Anthem,” said Seewald.

The Montville Township High School sophomore had performed before crowds before, having performed in Singing in the Rain in 7th grade and playing the lead in Peter Pan in 8th grade while a student at Lazar Middle School. She sang the National Anthem at the Michelle Fund Softball Tournament while still in fifth grade.

Preparation for the Patriots’ game was pretty low-key.

“I practiced a few times,” she said.

Game day was a hectic one, as Seewald had a field hockey pre-season game.

“I had to rush home and shower – and I was worried that all the screaming I had done was going to affect my voice,” she said.

Seewald – the consummate professional – said she was a little nervous, but a friend from camp showed up unplanned, and when she saw her, it instantly made her happy and less nervous. She stood on the “I” in “Patriots” and nailed the anthem.

“It was a fun experience,” she said of the evening.

“She did a really good job and I’m proud of her,” her mom Shery said.

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