Moore has been a mainstay in Smyrna infield

Lexi Moore (2) and teammates rush toward pitcher Payton Dixon after the final out of last year’s state finals. (Delaware State News file photo)

SMYRNA — The play was pretty ordinary.

But what it gave Smyrna High’s softball players was extraordinary.

The game-ending 1-6-4 double play — from pitcher Payton Dixon to shortstop Lexi Moore at second to Julia Thuer at first — finished off the Eagles’ 1-0 victory over Caravel in last year’s DIAA state finals.

A moment later, Smyrna’s players were mobbing Dixon in celebration of their second-straight state crown.

“I was just hoping the ball would get there and I wouldn’t overthrow it,” Dixon remembered. “There’s zero time to get nervous. You’ve just got to hope for the best.

Lexi Moore played in all 62 games, with 61 starts, in her high school career. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“Having that as our end play — especially to win the championship — it’s an unbelievable moment. We practice those all the time. Having it pay off in such a big game in a big moment, it’s amazing.”

Of course, Moore had no way of knowing that it would also be the last play of her high school career.

But Moore doesn’t have to simply remember that thrilling play. The senior says she watches it every night.

It’s among a lot of Smyrna highlights that Moore likes to look through since the season has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s a lot of plays for Moore to watch. The All-Stater has started every game but one in her three-season, 62-game high school career — and she even played in that contest, despite a sore knee.

Lexi Moore’s speed on the bases was one thing that Delaware liked about her as a youngster. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Then again, Moore was also talented enough at a young age that Delaware offered her a scholarship when she was in just eighth grade. It was only earlier this month that she officially signed with the Blue Hens.

For the last couple years, Moore has also been a member of a national-caliber travel-ball team out of Georgia, playing in tournaments as far away as California, Colorado and Texas.

With that in mind, maybe it’s no wonder that Smyrna coach Nicki Shirey made the youngster a starter right from the beginning.

“She came out very confident,” said Shirey. “She was competing for shortstop, which is one of the toughest spots in the field. She came out there ready to take it. And she did that, from day one.

“She really put in the work. There was no denying her talent.”

Of course, by her freshman season, Moore had already verbally accepted a scholarship from UD. The Hens had been impressed by the eighth-grader at a travel tourney.

“It was crazy,” she said. “At 13 years old, you have to think about your future. And most kids don’t really do that.

“You have to think of the bigger picture — the education that you’re going to be getting, the level that you’re going to be playing up at Delaware and I wanted to always stay home. This was a perfect fit for me.”

“Lexi is one of the top players in the state and has wanted to attend UD since she was young,” Blue Hen coach Jen Steele said when Moore signed. “She is athletic, can play multiple defensive positions, and will be a huge baserunning threat.”

A first-team All-State pick last spring, Moore was an honorable mention selection as a sophomore.

Shirey said, right from the beginning, the youngster wanted to learn more about the game. She was always asking questions.

Moore has batted leadoff throughout her career. Shirey remembers the conversations they’d have before Moore went up to the plate.

“She’s an intense player if you’ve ever watched her at the plate,” said Shirey. “You can’t get much more intense than her. Her speed. … running the bases, there’s not many players like her.

“We would have a conversation just prior to her going to bat — maybe a weakness that we might see in the field or what we think they might think she’s going to do. Wherever she wanted to place it, the majority of the time, she could do that.”

For her career, Moore batted .526 with 113 hits, 84 runs scored, 35 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of close to .700. Defensively, she had a fielding percentage of 92 percent.

Even after losing a number of key players to graduation over the last two seasons, Moore thought the Eagles would have been a contender to win a third-straight state crown this season.

With an infield that would have also included first-team All-Stater Thuer at first base and Hofstra-bound Kayla Wilson at second, Moore thought the Eagles’ defense would have been difficult to beat. Jaliyah Barnes is Smyrna’s fourth senior on the squad.

Playing shortstop has always made Moore feel like she needed to be one of the team’s leaders.

“I just like to let my teammates know that I have their back and that I’ll do anything for them,” she said.