Buffalo Grove's softball team has already played for a conference title this spring.
Now the Mid-Suburban East champs will be playing for a Class 4A regional championship at Glenbrook South.
And the No. 6-seeded Bison see it as a special opportunity.
"I'm so excited to play on Saturday," said Buffalo Grove junior pitcher Julia Camardo, who tossed a nifty 4-hitter to top No. 11 seed Deerfield 4-1. "Coach (Jamie) Paul said it is the first time in a long time that we are playing for a regional championship."
BG has won two regionals (1979 and 1997) in school history.
The Bison (20-9) will face No. 3 Lake Zurich (25-4) for the title at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Camardo, as usual, played a major role in the Bison advancing to the title game.
Along with her mound work, she also drove home her catcher Emily Carnes with a two-out single to right in the first inning for a quick 1-0 lead.
"Sometimes we get off to a slow start so it was good to get that run early,' said Bison center fielder Caitlin Catino, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI. "Then we were more confident for the rest of the game."
The Bison gave Camardo a 3-0 cushion in the fourth inning.
Katie Conley grounded a single to left and Michelle Dublin followed with a bloop single to left. An error on the play allowed the runners to get to second and third base.
After a groundout to the mound in which the runners held, Katie Fontanetta came to the plate.
The freshman right fielder stepped up with a clutch 2-run single up the middle.
"That was really a good slap single," Paul said. "Katie has been working really hard going up the middle so I was glad to see all of her hard work paid off in a big game."
Deerfield (15-16) got on the board in the top of the sixth when third baseman Natalie Behling led off with a triple to right center and came home on cleanup hitter and catcher Emelia Karkazis' sacrifice fly to center.
"I thought Emelia caught a great game," said Deerfield coach Susan Johnson. "She gave us wonderful leadership all season."
The Bison answered with their final run in the bottom of the inning when Cassie May led off with a single to center and went to second on a groundout.
Catino then singled to center for her second hit, driving home May for the 4-1 lead.
"We just wanted to come out ready to play and shut them down early," said Catino, a three-year starter. "It feels real good to win a regional game We really wanted to have a chance to play in the championship game."
Camardo improved to 17-5 with 4 strikeouts and no walks. Other than Behling's triple, Deerfield's other hits were singles by Melissa Dolins, sophomore Carly Frisone and freshman Audrey Brenner, who came in to pitch with two outs in the fourth inning.
"I just wanted to keep them off balance," Camardo said. "My teammates really played well defensively."
Johnson observed that as well.
"They had some great plays on defense and robbed us of some hits," she said. "It was a 1-run game for quite a time. Overall, I thought we played great defense, too."
Second baseman May made two plays to take away hits, one on a nice running basket catch with her back to the infield in shallow right field with two runners on and two outs in the third inning.
The other was on a hard-hit one hopper by Brenner to lead off the seventh.
"Julia (Camardo) pitched a great game and our defense did the rest of the work," Paul said. "We didn't put a ton of runs on the board. Offensively, we woke up late in the game."
"We know Lake Zurich is a good hitting team," Catino said of Saturday's title matchup. "We have to make sure we remain solid on defense and we have to swing the bats."