A season ago, Taner Ledezma hit .250 for an Alleman Pioneer baseball team that came up one win short of the IHSA Class 2A State championship.
Ledezma used that as motivation to become a better player.
And this week's Metro Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus has done just that. He is hitting .378 thus far this season, including going 5-for-7 with four RBIs and pitching a complete game shutout in a doubleheader Western Big 6 Conference sweep of United Township last Saturday.
Ledezma worked all off-season with various coaches to improve in all facets of the game, including working with former baseball scout Joe Murphy to basically "start from scratch" to revamp his hitting approach.
"We just went through the basics and fixed it all up" said Ledezma of working with Murphy.
Ledezma totaled 20 hits during last season's run to the state championship, a total that he is just six shy of reaching through 15 games this season.
"Last year, I started off bad and I started to think that I was bad," said Ledezma "This year, I just know that I'm better than the pitcher and know in my head that I'm going to hit it."
Ledezma played Rock Island Legion baseball last summer, helping them get to the District Championship. Seeing live pitching to go with the changed mechanics in his swing began his upward trend.
On top of his work with Murphy on his hitting and Alleman pitching coach Kirk Clark and Augustana's pitching coach Mike Myers on his pitching, Ledezma also participates in Quad City Sports Performance before school.
"He has worked extremely hard in the offseason," said Alleman coach Chris Lemon, "You're talking about going down at five or six in the morning, three or four days a week before school. Taner went from middle of the pack to leading the pack in conditioning."
Ledezma believes that his success at the plate has carried over to his confidence on the mound.
"Once you're doing well, it all falls into place," said Ledezma, "The harder you work on the mound, the more you're team is in the game and ready to hit."
Ledezma also keeps a special person close to him as much as possible at both at the plate and on the mound. Taner wears a cross around his neck that has a thumb print and the name of his late brother, Tyler, who passed away in 2010. Keeping his brother close to his heart gives Taner special motivation.
"Tyler taught me how to play the game," said Taner, "I owe it to him to reach my full potential and I'm not going to stop until I do."
Coach Lemon thinks one of the big differences in Ledezma's approach this season is his view of the game.
"He's in better condition and he seems to be better focused,'' said Lemon. "He seems to be having a lot of fun playing the game right now."
Metro Pacesetter -- Alleman's Taner Ledezma
Favorite food: Mom's homemade chicken tacos Favorite movie: "Major League" Favorite sport other than baseball: football Favorite TV Show: "Workaholics" Favorite athlete: Late brother, Tyler Ledezma Parents: Melissa and Randy Ledezma, East Moline
Today is Monday, March 10, the 69th day of 2014. There are 296 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Numerous counterfeiters are around, taking advantage of the influx of currency to pass their worthless trash. 1889 -- 125 years ago: J.J. Reimers, secretary and treasurer of the Rock Island Lumber and Manufacturing Co., on behalf of that firm, contributed $500 toward construction of a new Methodist church. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Samuel Ryerson, county recorder, was re-elected president of the 19th District of Knights of Pythias. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Three condemnation suits have been filed by the city of Rock Island to acquire property needed for an approach to the Rock Island-Davenport bridge, which has been under construction since March 6. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Plans for an eight-story Sheraton Inn in downtown Rock Island were announced today at a luncheon meeting at the Gay Nineties sponsored by the Rock Island Chamber of Commerce. Cost of the structure is estimated at $2.5 million. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Representatives of the Hardee's Golf Classic and tournament sponsor Hardee's Food Systems may meet next week with PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman to discuss a possible change in the tournament dates.