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Audubon faces surprising Penns Grove team in second round of NJSIAA softball tournament

When Audubon hosts Penns Grove on Thursday in the second round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 softball tournament, which team will the Green Wave face?

When Audubon hosts Penns Grove on Thursday in the second round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 softball tournament, which team will the Green Wave face?

The Red Devils team that upset Pitman, 6-0, in the tournament's opening round Tuesday? Or the team that lost to Highland, 8-0, on Monday?

No. 2 seed Audubon will be prepared for either one.

The Green Wave, who won the Colonial Conference Patriot Division, were 10-8 as of Tuesday. Penns Grove, the 10th seed, struggled in the Tri-County Conference Diamond Division and had a 6-12 record as of Tuesday.

The Green Wave have been using two pitchers: freshman Alison Guldin, and sophomore Hunter Urban. It appears Urban will get the nod against Penns Grove.

"Hunter has been throwing most of the big games and has done a good job," Audubon coach Erin Small said.

"Defense wins championships," Small added. "Our defense has been stellar against the top teams we beat."

Up the middle, shortstop Melissa Jost, second baseman Devon Welsh, and centerfielder Alex Gravinese have handled mostly everything hit their way.

Defense, pitching, and timely hitting have been the Green Wave's strength late in the season, although they did have a six-error game in a 15-1 loss to Haddon Heights on May 11.

"We had one bad game; we've been playing good defense ever since," Small said.

Penns Grove had a four-error game in a 12-2 loss to Gloucester Catholic on April 26, but for the most part, the Red Devils have played good defense. Furthermore, coach Dave Tiefenthaler said the loss to Highland occurred on prom day.

Tiefenthaler added that the Red Devils were a sub-.500 team when they decided to enter the playoffs for good reason.

"We play tough games and larger schools, so our record does not indicate how strong a team we are," Tiefenthaler said.

"We have to play consistent, strong defense and hit" to beat Audubon, he said.

Penns Grove's top three hitters are Allie England, Mackenzie Mason, and Alexis Cascaden.

Cherokee's season. Cherokee coach Nicole Lum wanted this season to be the one in which her team made it all the way to the South Jersey Group 4 final. After all, she had a strong nucleus of four seniors, including a solid pitcher in Carolyn Griffin.

The problem turned out to be inconsistency in hitting all season. The Chiefs had only two hits against Absegami in the opening round of the playoffs. They lost, 3-1.

Top seeds. Four area teams earned top seeds in the NJSIAA postseason tournament.

Eastern is the top seed in Group 4, Sterling in Group 2, Maple Shade in Group 1, and Florence in Central 1.

Pinelands beat out Kingsway for the top seed in South Jersey Group 3.

Steele's shutout. Taylor Steele on Saturday pitched Holy Cross past Northern Burlington, 4-0, and into the championship game of the Burlington County Scholastic League tournament against New Egypt on Wednesday.

The shutout was Steele's 11th of the season. In the process, she gave up two hits and struck out 15.

Gavigan's gargantuan week. Sacred Heart's Rachel Gavigan will remember last week for a long time. The junior third baseman notched her 110th career hit and 103d career run scored, and moved to within two of 100 career RBIs.

"I do not believe many have achieved 100 in each of these three categories by the end of their junior year," Sacred Heart coach Les Olson said in an e-mail. "All this, and also add in absolutely tremendous defense at third base."

Olson noted that Gavigan was hitting .515 with an on-base percentage of .610 with nine doubles, four home runs, 26 runs scored, and 29 RBIs.