As hundreds of people bought T-shirts and sipped beers in parking lots outside TD Ameritrade Park and thousands more picked up hot dogs and found their seats inside the ballpark, Julie Crowell and Darci Boyer stood behind the first base dugout and prepared to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“I thought we'd have a room,” Boyer said. They didn't. The hallway behind the dugout — with coaches, players, media and NCAA and ballpark staff wandering through — was the only spot the two Omaha women had to practice, check their makeup, hum and calm their nerves.
At 6:58 p.m., the women were escorted onto the field to sing the national anthem only a few feet from dozens of baseball players, several umpires and an aggressive cameraman, and in front of 25,260 people — a record crowd that would watch Mississippi State pull out a narrow defeat of Indiana, 5-4.