EAST PEORIA -- Most figured a roster littered with juniors meant the Alleman softball team was a year away from being a true state title contender.
Next year, the Pioneers will try defending their Class 2A championship.
Inside the dugout, everyone believed the time was now for a title. What carried Alleman to its sixth state championship during the season was a mentality that everyone -- no matter their experience or abilities -- would be a part of this.
"A total team effort," Alleman head coach Mike Ebner said after a 9-3 win over Teutopolis in the Class 2A state championship game at the EastSide Centre on Saturday. "Everyone had their job and everybody did their job every game."
There were no holes on this team.
"That makes it unbelievable. That's why we were so successful," Mr. Ebner said. "Some teams have a couple hitters you stay away from and don't give them a chance. We had everyone who could (produce)."
The Pioneers always believed each player and coach could be a part of something special.
"We're a team," Alleman junior second baseman Lexi Ferrari said. "We always communicate very well. We never bicker or fight. We just work together well."
Because of that mentality, they were able to do something no one outside the program thought could happen this year.
A team built on talent, trust and togetherness found a way to overcome four deficits in seven postseason games. When things seemed to be at its worst, Alleman rallied when it mattered most.
Along the way, the Pioneers won their first Western Big 6 Conference title in 14 years and ended a 16-year state championship drought. Alleman's six state titles tie it with Moline for the second-most total in state history.
"We have faith in each other," Alleman senior left fielder Anna Wetherell said. "This team, we always tried staying as positive as we can."
All the good vibes produced a reward. Being a state champion a year early seems pretty good.
Following a season-long script, Alleman did it together.
"Everyone," Ms. Ferrari said, "had a part in this."
Today is Tuesday, July 22, the 203rd day of 2014. There are 162 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Everybody is invited to go on a moonlight excursion next Monday evening on the steamer New Boston. The trip will be from Davenport to Muscatine and back. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The mayor and bridge committee let a contract to the Clinton Bridge company for a $1,125 iron bridge across Sears canal near Milan. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Injunction proceedings to compel the Central Association to keep a baseball team in Rock Island for the remainder of the season were contemplated by some of the Rock Island fans, but they decided to defer action. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The first of the new and more powerful diesel engines built for the Rock Island Lines for the proposed Chicago-Denver run, passed thru the Tri-Cities this morning. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island Rescue Mission is negotiating for the purchase of the Prince Hall Masonic Home located at 37th Avenue and 5th Street, Rock Island. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Quad Cities Container Terminal is being lauded as a giant business boon that will save several days and hundreds of dollars on each goods shipment to the coasts. The Quad Cities Container Terminal is the final piece of the puzzle that opens up increase access to world markets, Robert Goldstein said.