Tori Moore homered to give the Lady Pirates the lead en route to an 8-3 win over Fulton.
Tori Moore launched with one swing a moment she will remember the rest of her life.
The Hannibal senior shipped the first pitch she saw Thursday beyond the left-center fence at Veterans Sports Complex to give the Hannibal softball team the lead.
The home run scored fellow senior Henley Foxall to give the Lady Pirates a 3-2 edge in the second inning of their senior night game against North Central Missouri Conference rival Fulton.
“As soon as I hit that ball, I just took off and by the time I hit second base I was in tears,” Moore said. “I was so amazed. The funniest part was Henley came back and high-fived me and I was like, 'Run, go!' It was crazy. It was the greatest feeling I think ever in the past four years.”
There were goosebumps all around as Moore's teammates greeted her at the plate following the game-changing blast that led the Lady Pirates (12-7, 7-3 NCMC) over the Lady Hornets 8-3 for their sixth straight victory.
“It was definitely awesome,” said senior Olivia Pfeifer. “It was such a good hit. Once she hit it, you knew it was over. I was just so proud of her because she's a senior and she deserves it.”
Pfeifer got things started for Hannibal in the bottom of the first inning. The all-state shortstop reached via an error and stole third base before racing home on an errant throw to cut the Lady Pirates' deficit to 2-1.
Hannibal senior pitcher Desarae Garcia kept the Lady Hornets off balance much of the night after allowing two hits for two runs in the first inning. Following the early tallies she retired seven consecutive batters en route to a complete-game win.
“That was kind of frustrating when they scored, but you have to just push through that, get past it and know that you can do it,” the righty said.
Moore's homer gave Hannibal the lead one inning later, and the Lady Pirates never gave it back. Josie Zeiger singled home Pfeifer and Taylor Simms to make it 5-2 later in the same frame.
Foxall dropped a beauty of a bunt in the third inning to set up another scoring opportunity. The sacrifice moved senior Haley Bautch to third base and freshman Adrya Nichelson to second.
“She's been improving every practice,” Moore said of Foxall. “I practice with her, and she's my partner when we hit. She definitely deserved to be a part of this tonight. It was great. She did her job and that's what's important.”
Moore then hit a ground ball and reached on an error that allowed Bautch and Nichelson to score.
Bautch went 2-for-3 on the day with one run and a walk. The first baseman is batting .500 during the current winning streak dating to Sept. 12.
“Haley has been hitting nice little pokes between short and left and she also hit a triple a few games ago,” Moore said. “She's really come a long way.”
The Lady Hornets knocked on the door in the top of the fourth inning when they loaded the bases with just one out.
The Lady Pirates held them stranded.
Garcia delivered a key strikeout and second baseman Zeiger showed off her range with an unassisted putout at first for the third out.
“We did very good under all that pressure,” Garcia said of escaping the jam.
Pfeifer, the Lady Pirates' career leader in hits and a plethora of other categories, then used her speed to reach a mark that has eluded her most. The senior swiped second base with two outs in the fifth inning for her 33rd steal of the season, eclipsing the previous best set by Audra Simms in 1997.
The steal was Pfeifer's third of the game and led to the final Hannibal run when she came home on an RBI single by Zeiger.
“It's been a goal I've had since freshman year,” Pfeifer said of the record. “I have got other ones, but this one was probably the best because it's been the one I wanted.”
Pfeifer, who stole 29 bases in 2015 and 30 last season, mentioned her mission once on base is to apply as much pressure as possible to her opponent.
“Anytime I get on base, I'm always stealing and I know I'm going to score because either Taylor Simms or Josie is going to come through with a single and I can make it home,” she said.
Fulton countered with a run on a bases-loaded groundout in the top of the seventh inning before Simms sealed the deal with a snag on a towering foul popup for the final out.
Hannibal avenged a 7-6 loss to Fulton on Aug. 28.
Five games remain for the Lady Pirates in the regular season before they host the district tournament on their home field.
“We should have started earlier, for sure, but this is the team that we are,” Moore said of the season. “I knew that we could do it, and believe the rest of this season is going to continue to be like this — a winning streak.”