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 Wednesday, July 30, the 211th day of 2014. There are 154 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: After Sept. 1, every small box of matches will be required to have a 3 cent duty Lincoln stamp on it, and every large box will be one cent for every 100 matches. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Rock Island residents had contributed a total of $1,293 to the American Red Cross for the Johnstown flood relief fund. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Capt. Clark Means, new darkhorse twirler for the ARGUS staff, was in great form in his initial contest as a mound laborer. The result was that THE ARGUS trimmed the Union 6-5. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Hunter and Humprey Moody, young Decatur, Ill, brothers, lack only a few hours of establishing a new world light plane endurance record. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Gates of the 110th annual Mercer County Fair swing open tonight at Aledo for a full week of day and night activity. More that $36,000 will be paid in premiums and race purses. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The baseball field carved out of the cornfield near Dyersville, Iowa, continues to keep dreams alive for hundreds of visitors. Tourists from 26 state and France have visited Dan Lansing's farm to see the baseball diamond seen in the hit movie "Field of Dreams."