When 12-year-old Stephanie Mrockowski steps up to the microphone at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Saturday to sing the national anthem, she says she'll be less nervous than she would be singing at a family picnic in her own back yard.
"I love big crowds. It's much easier to sing before 50,000 than five," Stephanie says. "A small group usually crowds around me . . . eyes stare at me from close by, and that makes me nervous. But a large crowd is just awesome."
She has already performed at the ballpark, which will help ease her stage fright. The three-minute a cappella stint will be a repeat performance for the young soprano, who made her debut at the Baltimore ballpark a year ago.
"Stephanie has a very strong voice for someone her age -- the kind that gives you chills," says Amy Nelson, coordinator of ballpark entertainment, who invited the young singer back to Camden Yards this season.
"The crowd loved her. She really stood out among the top performers from last season," Ms. Nelson said.
Sitting on the sofa in the living room of her family's three-story townhouse in the Fountain Glen section of Bel Air, the lanky youngster talks about her love for music.
Framed pictures of Stephanie's performances at Camden Yards and at Memorial Stadium for the Bowie Baysox, along with laminated newspaper clippings -- mementos of a singing career that took off a year ago -- crowd a section of the wall.
"She started singing when she started to talk," Judy Mrockowski, her mother, says.
"I've always loved to sing," Stephanie adds. "I sing while I'm dusting, I sing when I'm watching television and at times I'll sing the answers to questions I'm asked . . . and often I'm told to just shut up."
Stephanie is quick to say that singing isn't her sole occupation. She's an accomplished soccer player, who proudly points to the trophies she's earned. She enjoys running and loves animals.
Stephanie didn't really have plans to sing in public, but requests for appearances rolled in after the then-sixth-grader sang her first solo in a school concert early last year.
Her rendition of "I'm a Small Part of the World" led to her singing the national anthem for a Baysox game, and a quick audition and invitation to sing the "The Star-Spangled Banner" at last season's Harford County Night at Oriole Park.
Since then, the Southampton Middle School honor student -- who has never had professional voice training -- has appeared at many community functions, including a meeting of the Harford County Council.
Next on her agenda is a demonstration tape for Warner Records that will include a jazzy version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Without You," a song by her idol, Grammy winner Mariah Carey.
Stephanie's goal now is to become a professional singer, and there seems to be no doubt in her mind that she'll be famous one day.
"It's not a question of wanting to make it, I know I'll make it," she says confidently.
For the moment, she's focused on Saturday's appearance at the ballpark -- staying on key and not forgetting the lyrics.
She's even prepared for the crowd's one-note accompaniment of the "O" in the last stanza.
"I'll just have to sing loud enough so they won't drown me out," she says, laughing.