Eagles earn 7th softball shutout with 7-0 win over Polytech

Smyrna shortstop Lexi Moore rounds third base on her way to a leadoff inside-the-park home run for the Eagles. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

WOODSIDE — Facing tough competition in the pitcher’s circle, Lexi Moore knew her team needed an early offensive spark.

The Smyrna High junior shortstop provided just that, driving the third pitch of the game into the right-centerfield gap and using her wheels to turn the line drive into a leadoff inside-the-park home run.

“I knew coming in that I just had to make solid contact and jump on them early,” said Moore. “It was down the middle. I knew right ahead that she missed her spot, so I just took advantage of it and I jumped on it early.”

The Eagles used the momentum Moore created to propel to a 7-0 shutout win over Henlopen North opponent Polytech High on Thursday.

“It was very important,” Smyrna coach Nicki Shirey said of the leadoff homer. “She knew they were going to be ready for her to play small ball and that she needed to rip it, and she did. She did her job today.”

Payton Dixon collected her seventh shutout of the season Thursday night.

Sophomore Payton Dixon pitched the Eagles (10-0) to their seventh shutout, limiting the Panthers (5-3) to three hits while striking out seven. She retired the first 10 batters.

It marked the eighth time this season Dixon has surrendered three hits or less.

“I just know that I can trust my defense behind me,” Dixon said. “They had my back every pitch, every play and every inning.”

“(Dixon) and our catcher, Zoe Wilcox, are really working well together,” said Shirey. “We allow our catcher to call her pitches, and the two of them really developed a relationship in the offseason and you can see that on the field. They’re very comfortable with each other, it’s paying off.”

The Eagles have outscored opponents 94-8 in 10 games. Five of those eight runs were allowed in one game.

Senior Kaite Burawski tossed a complete game for the Panthers, striking out 11. She also registered one of the team’s three hits.

Smyrna’s Zoe Wilcox slides around the tag from Polytech third baseman Destiny Whaley.

Junior Destiny Whaley collected the other two.

“She’s definitely a respected pitcher,” Shirey said of Burawski. “She’s great, she’s a top pitcher in the state. They’ve just been hot with the bats lately, so it was a good day for us.”

The defending state champion Eagles scattered 15 hits across eight batters, including three from Moore and Olyvia Smith and two each from Sara Miller, Zoe Wilcox and Dixon.

Abigail Mace, Julia Thuer and Laiken Zay each recorded one hit.

Following Moore’s leadoff homer, Thuer drove in Miller on an RBI single to right field to put the Eagles ahead 2-0 in the top half of the first.

The Eagles put runners on second and third base in the top of the second, but Burawski stranded both base-runners by forcing a pop-out to end the scoring threat.

Kaite Burawski struck out 11 batters in her complete game for the Panthers.

Smith extended the lead in the third with a single to centerfield, driving in Thuer to give the Eagles a 3-0 advantage.

Mace broke the game open in the fourth inning with a two-run triple, scoring Moore and Sheridan Price.

Mace also scored on the play, running home on a throwing error to put the Eagles ahead 6-0.

Moore’s RBI double in the top of the seventh inning capped Smyrna’s scoring.

Smyrna’s Olyvia Smith is tagged out at second base by Polytech shortstop Madison Mitchell. Smith recorded three hits for the Eagles.

With three of Smyrna’s next four games on the road, including an out-of-state showdown against Bohemia Manor High, Md. Saturday night at Caravel Academy, Shirey expects her team to continue to stay focused on what’s in front of the defending champions.

“They’re dialed in to where they know they want to be, both mentally and physically, and they know they have to bring it each game,” said Shirey.

“Our main goal is to make it to May 25, but like we did last year we just have to take it one game at a time, one inning at a time, one batter at a time,” said Moore.

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