The players and coaching staff for Buffalo Grove were just happy to raise the curtain Wednesday on their 2013 softball season.
But they had reason to be even happier after collecting a pair of wins, 9-2 over Niles West and 6-2 over Addison Trail (6-2), at the Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
Playing in the dome was a welcome opportunity for the Bison, who have been practicing for nearly three weeks.
"Actually, I was surprised how nice this was here," said Bison catcher Amanda Salzman, a senior co-captain along with senior third baseman Erin Barton. "The ground is a little more bouncy and obviously you have a ceiling above you, but everything else is just like outside. The lighting is really good."
The Bison offense lit things up, too, as it collected 13 hits against Niles West and 10 more against Addison Trail.
"I think our offensive game has grown tremendously," Salzman said. "We've put an emphasis on that during the off-season and we've practiced a lot of hitting the last few weeks."
Sophomore Caitlyn Catino, an all-area center fielder as a freshman, wasted little time igniting the Bison bats with a leadoff single to center against Niles West.
She went to second on Dea Barton's sacrifice bunt and scored on Erin Barton's double over the right fielder' head for a quick 1-0 advantage.
Salzman was then robbed on a nice running catch to her left by Wolves right fielder Divya Shah.
But the Bison offense added 2 more runs in the second and never looked back behind a 4-hitter from sophomore pitcher Julia Camardo.
The right-hander, employing solid ball movement and a nice changeup, struck out eight, including the final batter of the game.
"It's really a great way to start the season," said Camardo, who also threw the final 1 innings against Addison Trail to lock up that win. "It was my first time here and it's so cool. I honestly felt like I was outside, especially with the green turf and the great lighting. You can't tell the difference from outside.
"My ball seemed to be breaking a lot so the off-season work paid off. This is going to be a fun season."
And it's fun for Camardo when the offense is clicking.
"Getting the early lead really helps so much," said Camardo, whose team was ahead 5-0 after four innings. "It takes a lot off your shoulders."
Barton certainly didn't leave the bat on her shoulder.
BG's shortstop went 4-for-4 in Game 1 with a sacrifice before going 1-for-2 with a walk in Game 2.
Other Bison top hitters against Niles West were Catino (2-for-5), Erin Barton (2-for-5) and senior right fielder Megan Fu (2-for-3, walk).
Against Addison Trail, the Bison were led by multiple hitters Catino (2-for-4, double), Erin Barton (2-for-3, double, triple) and Salzman (2-for-4). Junior first baseman Katie Conley, Camardo and Fu also had hits.
On the mound, the Bison went to junior Breann Steady against Addison Trail (0-3). Making her first varsity start, the right-hander struck out nine and gave up 4 hits before being relieved by Camardo with two outs and two runners on base in the bottom of the sixth.
"Bre did a good job," said Bison coach Jamie Paul. "It was her first varsity start. We just got a little rattled there (in sixth inning) so we had to change things up (with Camardo taking the mound).
"Julia did a nice job (against Niles West). She kept them off balance. As soon as they started to time her, she adjusted and she changed things up. It was a solid performance. I'm happy."
And Paul was happy with her team's bats.
"That was a good start for Dea," Paul said after watching the sophomore go 5-for-7 in the two games with a pair of sacrifices. "She is a good hitter."
Her sister Erin ended up 4-for-8 for the day.
"We definitely like to pick each other up," Erin said. "It was awesome just to get in the games."
"They're swinging sisters," Paul said of the spark the Bartons proved the offense. "They do a good job complementing each other. If one of them is down, the other will pick her up."
Paul liked the way her team picked up two wins Wednesday but knows there's a long way to go.
"I felt it was great to get some games under our belt," the coach said. "It was a good start but there are definitely things we must work on. Now we have to start fine-tuning."