Senior outfielder Tori Moore brings value to the Hannibal softball team from the unlikeliest spot in the lineup.

Tori Moore led the Hannibal softball team with a .444 batting average at the Troy Tournament during the first weekend of the season.

The senior was on a tear.

That's why the outfielder didn't initially understand why she continued to be pencilled into the Lady Pirates lineup as the No. 9 hitter.

“At first I thought it was kind of like a punishment,” she admitted.

Moore soon learned it was quite the opposite. 

“She actually asked, 'Coach, why am I in the 9-hole? I feel like I'm hitting really well,'” Hannibal coach Kendra Murphy said. “We were like, 'You are. That's why you're there.'”

Moore is second on the Lady Pirates with 11 runs scored so far this year, doing so while batting ninth every game except for an 8-4 win at North Central Missouri Conference rival Boonville. 

The 2016 all-NCMC selection slugged a home run Aug. 26 during a 3-1 victory at Marshall and provided a clutch game-tying, eighth-inning RBI single in what ultimately turned into a 7-6 loss to Monroe City earlier this week.

It's safe to say Moore provides a spark for Hannibal (6-6, 4-2 NCMC) in front of a loaded top of the order led off by senior all-state shortstop Olivia Pfeifer, whose .447 average leads the team. Following Pfeifer are emerging freshman Taylor Simms and junior Josie Zeiger, who has driven in a team-high 14 runs.

“Being behind Tori, I know I'm going to get an at-bat,” Pfeifer said. “She's really good at turning the lineup around. Even though she's ninth, she's like any other hitter.”

The Lady Pirates hope the prowess of their No. 9 batter catches opponents off guard.

“A lot of teams don't expect the ninth hitter to do a whole lot, so I think it catches a lot of them by surprise,” Moore said. “I kind of like it. I like being right before Olivia. If I get on, she moves me and Simms is able to get RBIs in.”

Moore grew accustomed to batting fifth or thereabouts in the Hannibal lineup last season, when she was third on the team with a .403 batting average and .457 on-base percentage.

While she found success in the middle of the lineup last year, she feels being slotted ninth gives her a defined role. 

“When I was in the middle, I kind of felt like I was going through the motions, but when I'm ninth, I feel like I have an actual job to do and it has meaning for me to be there,” she said.

Moore's performance at the plate isn't always roses. Unprompted, she mentioned that she's battled with building confidence at the plate throughout her playing career. 

“Over the past few years, I've kind of doubted whether I'm helping the team or just hurting the team being in the lineup,” she admitted. “But I've learned this year that if you put your mind to it, you can do it.”

This season, the senior owns a .258 average through 12 games, coming in lower than a year ago — though her 17 total bases this year are third on the squad.

The numbers don't tell the whole story.

As a senior wanting to end her high school career with a bang, Moore could've put up resistance to batting last. 

Instead, she's discovered new ways to provide value to her team. 

“I expect it out of my No. 9 hitter to be somebody who usually finds themselves in a leadoff position or a spot to get some RBIs,” Murphy said. “With Tori's power plus her speed, I really enjoy having her hit in front of Pfeifer, just being able to get on base.

“I really like her down there.”