The pitcher can often be the focal point of any softball game.
Never was that more the case for Buffalo Grove than during the final innings of Saturday's Mid-Suburban League East Division contest against visiting Elk Grove.
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Bison sophomore ace Julia Camardo helped carry her team to a dramatic 7-5 victory -- not only with her arm but with her bat.
She went 4-for-4 and clubbed a 2-run homer that sailed at least 15 feet over the fence in right-center to give her team its 7-5 margin in the bottom of the sixth.
But it gets better.
After senior Elisa Payne singled to center and sophomore Brianna Leach singled off the left-field fence, the Grenadiers had runners on first and second to start the top of the seventh.
They advanced to second and third on a wild pitch -- and there were still no outs.
So who takes over?
Yes, Camardo, who struck out the next three batters -- giving her a season-high 13 strikeouts for the game -- and BG (5-4, 1-2) notched its first MSL win.
Camardo also had a double and 2 singles with 2 RBI.
"Every time I go to bat I'm just thinking of trying to hit it up the middle," Camardo said. "Everyone hit well, one through nine, so that was the good."
The Bison offense was looking good with a dozen hits.
Collecting multiple hits for the Bison were catcher Amanda Salzman (2-for-4), Dea Barton (2-for-3, sacrifice) and Katie Conley (2-for-4).
"It was a great win," said BG coach Jamie Paul. "After starting the game down 3-1 (it was resumed in the second inning from a rain delay earlier in the week), I was really happy with how we pulled together as a team.
"I told the girls to accept it as a new challenge -- and the challenge was accepted."
Grens sophomore right fielder Brianna Leach, who made a pair of nifty diving catches, also helped spark the offense with a 3-for-4 performance. She had a home run, triple and single with 3 RBI. Grens shortstop Becca Maher (2-for-4) also had a pair of hits.
Camardo allowed 6 hits before finishing with her 3 biggest strikeouts.
"Honestly, I was just acting as though we were losing in the game at that point," Camardo said. "I was just thinking about doing what I had been doing the whole game, and I was acting like there was no one on base."
Elk Grove 11, Wheeling 0 (6 innings): After its loss at Buffalo Grove on Saturday morning, Elk Grove (10-4, 1-2) headed to Wheeling for another MSL East game.
The Grens got their first MSL win as Brianna De Silvia (3-1) threw a 2-hitter with 5 strikeouts.
Becca Maher (2-for-4), Elisa Payne (3-for-4, 2 triples), Briana Leach (2-for-4, double), Megan Eul (3-for-4), Sarah Pauscher (2-for-2, triple) and Melissa Picchi (2-for-2, 3 RBI) led the offense.
Sara Kern and Nikki Mikosz had the hits for Wheeling (5-5, 0-2) which received 2 strikeouts from Katie Quagliano.
Barrington splits: It took 3 hours and 40 minutes for Barrington to drop its first game of the season after 13 wins.
Marengo (11-6) took advantage of 3 walks in the top of the 15th inning to edge the Fillies 3-2 at the Fields of Dreams on Saturday night.
Then it took less than two hours for the Fillies (14-1) to get back to their winnings way with a 6-0 shutout in Game 2.
The opener was a terrific pitcher's duel between Marengo's Bethany Hart and Fillies sophomore Keenan Dolezal (9-1), who recorded a single-game school record of 20 strikeouts with 4 walks.
Maggie O'Hara's two-out home run over the left field fence tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Morgan Olszewski (2-for-6) and Katie Dehnert (2-for-7, 2 doubles) were multiple hitters for the Fillies, who outhit Marengo 10-7 in the marathon.
Barrington senior Cassidy Kraimer (5-0) kept her record perfect by tossing a 5-hitter with 3 strikeouts and no walks in Game 2.
Krista Moore (3-for-4, double, RBI) and Erin Ward (2-for-3, RBI) led the Fillies' offense.
Fremd 11, Antioch 1 (6 inn.): Playing in her second game back since a shoulder injury, Mandi Matsumoto went 3-for-3 to lead the visiting Vikings' 13-hit attack.
Other multiple hitters for Fremd (6-5) were Julie Josten (2-for-3, 3 RBI), Leigh Farina (2-for-4, 2 doubles, 4 RBI) and Tracy Welninski (2-for-4, RBI), who belted the game's only home run.
Senior ace Ashlynne Schwantz (5-2) notched the win by tossing a 4-hitter with 6 strikeouts and no walks.