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 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Col. H.F. Sickless informs us that there will be new organization of troops in this state under the call for more men. 1889 -- 125 years ago: James Normoyle arrived home after graduating from West Point with honors in the class of 1889. He was to report to Fort Brady, Mich., as second lieutenant in the 23rd Infantry. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia. Germany and Austria refused an invitation of Sir Edward Grey to join Great Britain at a mediation conference. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Dr. William Mayo, the last of the three famous Mayo brother surgeons, died at the age of 78. 1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the biggest horse shows of the season was held yesterday at Hillandale Arena on Knoxville Road under the sponsorship of the Illowa Horsemen's Club. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Davenport is like a gigantic carnival this weekend with the Bix Arts Fest taking over 12 square blocks of the downtown area. A festive atmosphere prevailed Friday as thousands of people turned out to sample what the Arts Fest has to offer.