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Moore radiates confidence in 5th season with Laramie Rangers

May 29—Tayton Moore has enjoyed a red-hot start to his final American Legion baseball season.

In seven games since returning from a season at Hesston College in Kansas, Moore is hitting .400 through 20 at-bats while recording eight hits including a triple. His seven runs scored are tied for fifth-best on the team despite playing in roughly half the games.

"This is my fifth season with the Rangers," Moore said. "The opportunity to come back and play with these guys was a no-brainer. I'm definitely more comfortable here and had some bumps in the road (at Hesston).

"Everyone is gonna go through that and figure it out. As time went along, it got better. That's something I've noticed here, as well. Good things take time."

At Hesston, Moore had just two at-bats with no hits and pitched 1 2/3 innings. On the mound, he allowed two runs on a hit while striking out one and walking a pair.

For Laramie, Moore's defensive comfort zone is at catcher. He has the ability to play multiple infield positions and expects to spend more time on the mound than past seasons.

He thinks his time on the mound will come deeper into the season as the team plays in more tournaments. Depth will become key, and he feels ready to step up.

Rangers coach Aaron Lozano said Moore returned to the team full of enthusiasm and ideas on how to improve. He also is never shy to suggest a different method to doing something, especially if he feels the team is in a rut.

"As a coach, I don't think I know everything," Lozano said. "I love when my guys bring me ideas and are enthusiastic about that. I appreciate him speaking up. It's easy to get stuck when things are going just OK.

"Being a guy that pitches and catches is tricky. You don't want to overtax his arm. If we can get good innings out of him, we'll take it."

For Moore, this Legion baseball season is more than a final ride with the boys. It's also being used as an audition for him to find a new college home after he mentioned he was transferring from Hesston.

"The coach that recruited me (Dominic Visentin) is now at Jace's (Moniz) school (Ottawa University in Kansas)," Moore said. "The plan is to find something closer to home this year. If I can't, I'll go to (the University of Wyoming) and keep working on baseball on my own.

"I would have loved to catch more at Hesston, but that wasn't the chance I was given. You have to take the opportunities you do get and run with them."

Hesston is changing divisions, which has impacted Moore's major and let him to seek another place to play, Lozano said.

"It was a great experience for him, but he was left with a lot of unknowns," the coach said. "(Moore) is a guy that stands out, and I'm hopeful he'll find something to do."

Moore's hot start at the plate comes after a bit of uncertainty. After not taking many at-bat's in college, Moore worried he would struggle to get back into rhythm.

After returning, Moore mentioned the muscle memory is coming back. He now has the ability to feel when his swing is correct, or when a mechanic is off.

"(Moore) has always been a good hitter for us," Lozano said. "Looking at the at-bat's, he's had since getting back, I'd say he's a step above where he was and he was an all-state player last year.

"He definitely looks to be on that trajectory again."

Moore feels there is an unspoken obligation for him to be a team leader both with his play and vocally. That is a challenge Moore feels hungry to accept and has done to a lesser extent during past seasons.

He is excited for the chance to go from virtually without a role with the Larks to being a core player with Laramie and understands the younger players on the team aren't expected to fill those roles in their first few seasons.

"Moore (and teammate Brandon Chavez) were voted most outstanding team leaders by their peers last season," Lozano said. "They have very different leadership styles and will help us implement a new brand of baseball."

Added Moore: "Being a super senior, there is expectations. I'm not a guy who's just trying to be a leader anymore."

Beyond hitting, pitching and fielding, Moore believes the best part of his game is base running combined with his knowledge of the sport. He has swiped four bags already this season for an 80% successful steal rate.

Moore was able to learn more things about baseball at Hesston that he has previously never thought about. He wants to be an encyclopedia of knowledge to his teammates with the newfound information.

"Not just guys on the (Class) AA team, but also the Single-A team," Moore said. "The more information that gets passed around will benefit the program as a whole."

Lozano has noticed Moore holds a calming presence and is very approachable to his peers. Moore won't scream and yell at them, but finds other ways to be a vocal leader.

Moore's leadership beliefs start with an individual approach. Everyone should aim to be a leader and not expect one person to be able to do it all.

He thinks leading a team should be a collective effort. Moore wants himself along with Chavez and teammate Aidan Buchanan to set the example well enough to motivate younger players.

"Working with (individuals) on the team as leaders will make this team more successful," Moore said. "We have a lot of talent and I know we can win ballgames.

For Lozano, Moore has had a model career for the Rangers. He has seen Moore's self confidence rise through the years and watched him mature into an adult.

"He joined in the 2020 COVID season," Lozano said. "His growth has been exponential. We put him into games as a sophomore on a team that went to a state championship game, and he would say 'Are you sure?'

"He was really nervous and his confidence has helped grow his game. The tools have always been there. He needed to trust in his game, and once he's done that, he's been an all-state player."

Austin Edmonds covers Laramie High, University of Wyoming and community athletics for WyoSports. He can be reached at aedmonds@wyosports.net. Follow him on X at @_austinedmonds.