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WASHINGTON — After getting a taste of summer-like weather this past week, it’s time to start thinking baseball.

 Saturday morning at Nationals Park, contestants were warming up their vocals cords getting ready to sing their hearts out.

It was the ninth annual national anthem auditions. Fifty people were invited to perform The Star-Spangled Banner a cappella in the empty stadium to a panel of judges.

 They were competing for a chance to sing at a Nationals home game this upcoming baseball season.

Sara Sturm, from Centreville, Virginia, was among those who were auditioning. She’s also one of the top 50 American Idol contestants.

 “I have my own style.  … It’s more raspy and bluesy,” she says. “So I guess I kind of bring that to the song.”

Eleven-year-old Sofia Parfomak, from Arlington, was also auditioning.

 “I’m very excited, but I’m not too nervous,” she says.
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 Tom Davis, director of entertainment for the Nationals, says he doesn’t have a single number in mind as far as how many people he’s going to select. But he says if they have talent, he’ll find a spot for them, especially since there are 81 home games and two home exhibition games.
 “It’s always great to find that diamond in the rough,” he says.

The contestants should know by Friday if they’ll be singing at a home game. The Nationals home opener is April 7.

 Davis says you still can apply by sending a demo or a YouTube link to