The Penns Grove softball team wasn't supposed to be here.
The Red Raiders weren't even a .500 team when coach Dave Tiefenthaler decided that his players were good enough to compete in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 tournament.
So far, they're proving to him and themselves that he made the right decision.
Thursday at second-seeded Audubon, Penns Grove pecked away at pitcher Hunter Urban, took advantage of home-team mistakes, and rolled to a 3-1 victory in the second-round game.
The 10th-seeded Red Devils (7-12), who had upset No. 7 Pitman in the first round, advance to the third round to face Pennsville, the No. 3 seed, on Tuesday.
Audubon finished 18-6.
Penns Grove sophomore Jordan LaRosa gave up five hits, struck out seven, and walked one, keeping the Green Wave off balance with a superior drop ball and curve.
"I can't even describe it - I'm so happy," senior Allie England said about the victory. "After they scored that one run, I got a little nervous, but we held together."
Penns Grove was leading, 3-0, when Audubon scored in the sixth inning. Senior Amanda Houske came home from first base on an outfield error.
The Red Raiders committed two of their three errors in that inning, but Audubon left Urban and another base runner stranded. All told, the Wave left seven runners on base.
Penns Grove left 10 on base; however, it took advantage of Audubon errors in the first, third, and fourth innings to take the 3-0 lead.
All told, the Green Wave had four errors, their worst defensive performance since a 15-1 loss to Haddon Heights on May 11.
"I have a smart team," Tiefenthaler said. "They know how to take advantage when things go our way."
Things went their way early when freshman Mackenzie Mason was hit by a pitch. The bases were loaded at the time, so senior Katie Halter trotted home with the first run. Halter had reached base on an infield error.
England scored the second run on a passed ball, and courtesy runner Ashley Casper, subbing for pitcher LaRosa, scored on an infield throwing error.
"Mr. T tells us to stay aggressive, and on the passed ball, I took a chance," England said. "When we went into Pitman, I was confident. When we came in here, I wasn't as confident because they are the two seed. But my team, we stick together, and I'm not surprised that we came this far."
Houske, Audubon's catcher, said LaRosa had a great curveball. Houske, who had one of the Green Wave's five hits, added that she and her teammates made bad choices in swinging at pitches.
"We did not have our best stuff today," Audubon coach Erin Small said. "We gave them three unearned runs, and we didn't hit. You can't give up unearned runs in the playoffs and expect to win.
"That said, we're in a rebuilding year. Eighteen wins and a [Tri-County] conference championship in a rebuilding year, I'll take that any day."
Penns Grove 1011000 - 363
Audubon 0000010 - 154
WP: Jordan LaRosa. LP: Hunter Urban. 2B: PG-Nevada Hornbeck.