Foul Balls Beware, Widener is on the Field

Hilary Bentman, Associate Director of Communications
Ball girls MacKenzie Lewis and Sammy McCarthy pose for a photo in Phillies jerseys
Widener assistant coach MacKenzie Lewis (left), and nursing student Sammy McCarthy, are both serving as Phillies Ballgirls for the 2023 season.

Widener is well represented at the Phillies this season.

Aside from students interning in various aspects of the organization and at Citizens Banks Park, there is a pair of Pride members who can be seen along the first and third baselines, fielding fouls and interacting with fans during home games.

Nursing major and Widener softball player Sammy McCarthy ’25, and MacKenzie Lewis, an assistant coach who just completed her first year with the softball team, are both serving as Phillies Ballgirls for the 2023 season.

Nursing student Sammy McCarthy in Phillies Ballgirl uniform on the field at Citizens Bank Park
Sammy McCarthy '25

And it’s extra special, they say, being able to share this experience and represent the blue and gold — though the pair has yet to work on field during the same game. 

“It’s such a fun experience to do, let alone with someone with whom you have a special bond with like Sammy,” said Lewis.

Lifelong supporters of the Fightins, both call the position a dream come true. McCarthy used to admire the ball girls when she attended games as a young fan. Now she gets to be a role model for the next generation. 

“Phillies fans are the best fans… the energy they bring. And when you put on that uniform, it’s just surreal,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy and Lewis, who have both been playing softball since age 9, had to go through a lengthy application, interview, and tryout process with the Phillies, proving they could not only field fouls but also had top-notch communication skills for interacting with fans and engaging in the community off the field.

A member of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, McCarthy says her Widener extracurricular activities have helped her hone those all-important interpersonal communication skills.

“The way I communicate with people is definitely something I learned at Widener, being able to communicate with different people and personalities,” she said.

McCarthy and Lewis are part of a platoon of 20 ball girls. When selected to be on the field for a home game, each wears a personalized Phillies jersey and must keep a close eye on the game. Foul balls can be smoked down the line and it’s their job to field the ground balls or, for those hit in the air, get out of the way of players who might be able to make the catch.

“You run through the situations in your head and the ball is hit so hard, so fast. And it’s such a great thing the fans cheer on the ball girl,” said Lewis.

All the while, the ball girls are interacting with fans, and when they do field a ball, they will hand it off to someone in the stands, usually a child. The smile on their faces is priceless.

“I wish I had a ball for every single one of them,” said McCarthy, who may field only a few balls per game.

Assistant Coach MacKenzie Lewis in Phillies Ballgirl uniform stands on the field at Citizens Bank Park
MacKenzie Lewis, assistant softball coach

When not chosen to be on the field, ball girls roam Citizens Bank Park running the 50/50 raffle that benefits Phillies charities, and promote Red Goes Green, a sustainability effort at the stadium and beyond.

Away from the Bank, the ball girls are ambassadors in the community, volunteering at nursing homes, with the Special Olympics, as part of military surprises, and at schools and softball clinics to teach young children how to play the game.

“We help kids with softball skills, especially those kids who might not have access to the game. We lead by example,” said McCarthy.

Lewis looks forward to this aspect of the job. “I love giving back to the community, between playing and coaching.”
 
The Widener community has also shown their love and support for McCarthy and Lewis. The softball team was thrilled to hear two of its own would be wearing the red and white pinstripes this season, though McCarthy and Lewis say they do receive some friendly taunts from teammates when they don’t field a foul ball cleanly.

For Lewis, being part of the Phillies has really underscored the importance of networking and that’s “the biggest lesson I can bring to Widener and the softball team. It’s something I can relay to them. It’s all about making connections and this has been an amazing opportunity.”

With the Phillies season starting in the middle of spring semester, McCarthy said her professors were hugely supportive and accommodating. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons McCarthy chose Widener in the first place. She wanted a school where she could pursue nursing and still play the sport she loves.

 “A lot of schools want you to choose. At Widener, I can do all the things – sports, sorority, nursing, and clinicals. I love being able to balance it all,” she said.

And both McCarthy and Lewis hope their run as ball girls extends far beyond the summer. A return to Red October, anyone?

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