From a Bronc to a Phillie, a Star is Born.
The 2012 Philadelphia Phillies have three all-stars on their Major League Baseball roster this year, two pitchers and a catcher.
There is another up-and-coming bright star wearing the red pin stripes at Philadelphia's Citizen's Bank Park this summer, Rachael Matreale '12, a Phillies' ball girl.
After graduating from Rider Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Marketing and Sports Management, Matreale began her career with the Phillies.
Opening night came in mid-April, two weeks into the Major League season.
After an evening of observing a veteran ball girl in left field, Matreale worked three innings the following night, running the relief pitcher's jackets in from the bullpen to the dugout.
"It was pretty awesome," said Matreale, who compiled 596 strikeouts as the Bronc softball team pitcher, second best all-time at Rider. "Just to be on the field, in front of 45,000 people. We made jacket runs, out to the bullpen and then to the dugout, and I got to meet a few of the players. That was awesome."
Matreale, who earned First Team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honors, led the MAAC in wins (17), was second in strikeouts (226 in 215 innings) and third in earned run average (2.04) in 2012.
With the Phillies, it is more of her defensive skills that come into play.
"I had one ground ball hit to me, and I fielded it cleanly," Matreale said of her opening night. "I was nervous. You have to stay focused. You get into the game and start watching it and kind of forget why you are out there. When the ball is fair you have to get out of the way, you have to grab your stool and take it with you, so you have to pay attention."
She also has to concentrate on the game while all of her adorning fans call her name from the crowd.
"The fans are the best," she said. "That's definitely the most awesome part. We have our first names on the back of our jerseys, so they're screaming your name. The little boys are really excited. Even grownups, they'll say, 'Rachael, you're so pretty, could you give me a foul ball?' They try and schmooze it up, but we try to give the baseballs to the little ones."
In addition to the on-the-field duties, Matreale and the 13 other ball girls do community service, work charity events and conduct softball clinics.
Matreale was one of 30 finalists who went through an intense tryout process, which included testing their baseball knowledge, softball skills and speed, and interpersonal skills.
In addition to her outstanding Rider career, having been a pitching instructor for Jackson Baseball/Softball Academy as well as having had a marketing and promotions internship with the Camden Riversharks and Trenton Devils helped her make it through the elimination process.
Matreale was in class at Rider when she got the word. "I got a voice mail while in class so I went outside the classroom and called," she said. "I was one of seven new girls picked. It was pretty exciting; I was jumping around. It was great."
"There were so many qualified candidates this year," said Michele DeVicaris, manager of the Phillies Ball girls. "It was not an easy decision, but we know that the young women who have been selected will serve as tremendous role models both on and off the field."
Matreale said she's wanted to try out for the position for quite some time now. Having been a long-time fan, as well as a member of a family who always has season tickets to Phillies games, Matreale said she was thrilled for the opportunity.
"To represent a team that you've grown up watching and loving makes it so great," Matreale said.
Phillies Ball girls are expected to become ambassadors for the Phillies during and after the games. All of the girls were chosen to represent educated, athletic and energetic women who want to serve as role models in professional sports for young girls.
Matreale certainly fits that bill.
A typical year for a ball girl consists of dozens of appearances on television and radio, visits to schools, nursing homes, golf and bowling tournaments and fashion shows. They also play a dozen softball games, all of which include elements of charity.
Now they have an ace pitcher.
Phillies' television broadcaster Tom McCarthy received some information about Matreale's accomplishments, including her no-hitter, her one-hitter and her four two-hitters this season, and spoke about her outstanding Rider career during a telecast when she appeared on camera.
"My family recorded the game so I got to see it," Matreale said. "It was so nice of him to do that. Everyone I know is so excited for me. I'm excited to be a part of the game and the community service we get to do."
Rachael has made the transition from Bronc to Phillie, and now she is becoming a star.