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 Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.