Five days after being struck in the face by a line drive, Buffalo Grove junior Julia Camardo was back on the pitcher's mound Tuesday.
And she was back to her winning ways.
Camardo, who pitched the Bison to the Mid-Suburban East softball crown a year ago, fired a 6-hitter with 7 strikeouts as Buffalo Grove edged host Wheeling 3-1 at the Wheeling Park District's Heritage Park, which features artificial turf and about a 30-foot high outfield fence.
Camardo improved to 6-4 and the Bison climbed to 8-8 and 4-3 in the MSL East, just a half-game behind Elk Grove (4-2).
"That was kind of scary, kind of rattling," said Camardo, who wore a face mask after suffering a badly bruised eye and swollen jaw and cheek bone last Friday against Rolling Meadows. "But once I got used to being out there, I settled down.
"I could tell they were good hitters. This is the first game in a while where I had trouble getting ahead in the count, but by the end of the game I was doing better with that and that helped."
Trailing 3-1, the Wildcats (3-12, 2-5) had the tying runs on base in the bottom of the seventh following a walk to leadoff batter Christie Ambrose and single to right by Nikki Mikosz with one out.
But Camardo closed out the game by getting the next two batters on an infield fly rule and groundout to second baseman Cassie May.
Wildcats senior pitch Katie Quagliano was also effective, giving up 7 hits while striking out four and walking only one.
Also hit by a line drive while pitching before she reached high school, Quagliano has worn a mask in all four years that she has thrown on coach Mike Caringella's varsity.
"It was really good to see their pitcher back," Caringella said. "That was huge.
"Both pitchers were outstanding, All the runs were in the first inning. Both pitchers controlled the game."
After freshman Katie Fontanetta's infield single with one out in the top of the fourth inning, Quagliano did not give up another hit and retired the final five batters she faced.
The Bison did their damage in the first inning when they collected 4 hits, including an RBI double to left-center by Camardo in her first at-bat.
"That felt amazing," Camardo said. "If I can get a hit, it makes me so much happier when I'm pitching. It's just gives me more confidence."
Junior Caitlin Catino got BG's first hit when she led the game off with an infield single. Dea Barton advanced her to second with a perfect bunt. Catino stopped at third on Emily Carnes' single to left center.
Bison coach Jamie Paul then called for a double steal and Catino was able to race home on an error.
With two outs, Camardo slugged her big double and Katie Conley followed with an RBI triple down the left field line to cap the Bison scoring.
"It was very nice to have Julia back on the mound," Paul said. "It was good for her to get a game in. Physically, everything was fine, It's good to get her back out there mentally."
"It was really nice to see Julia back," said Fontanetta, the Bison freshman right fielder. "It would have been nice to score more runs but the three we got in the first inning were enough for her."
Paul liked the way her team came out swinging the bats.
"We came out strong offensively," the coach said. "We put some runs on board early and what really added to our game was the solid defense throughout."
The defensive highlight came in the bottom of the sixth when BG pulled off a 3-4-8-7 double play.
With a runner on first and no outs, the Wildcats put down a sacrifice bunt.
First baseman Conley fielded the bunt and threw to second baseman May, who was covering first for the first out.
Attempting to pick off the runner at second, the throw went into center field where Catino alerted backed up the play. She fielded the overthrow and threw a strike to left fielder Michelle Dublin, who had raced to third base and made the tag on the runner.
"That was a big-time play," Paul said. "Caitlin came up with the back-up and then Michelle covers third base. I love when an outfielder covers a base and gets the job done. That was a momentum swing for us."
Ambrose and Mikosz each went 2-for-3 for the Wildcats, who also received a RBI triple from Megan Olsen in the first inning which scored courtesy runner Alexa Orlando.
The Wildcats' other hit in the game was a lead-off single to left in the sixth inning by Michaela Vasey.
Following Saturday's doubleheader at Antioch in which she was intentionally walked six straight times, Mikosz has now reached base in 10 consecutive at-bats. She reached on a fielder's choice, a walk and 2 singles on Tuesday.
Catino (2-for-3) was BG's only multiple hitter while Jasmine Avalos also had a base hit for the visitors.