The 2015 Cobden baseball team accomplished something the famous 1964 "Amazing Appleknockers" basketball team didn't do when the they won the Class 1A state title.
"Last year's team left its legacy as the first boys' team in any sport to win a state title, however, I've already told this team that we aren't defending last year's title," said coach Craig Partridge. "No 1A team has repeated since they went to four classes, but we got some kids back and if we can stay healthy we have a shot at repeating."
Cobden's (27-6) road to the state championship started with its second regional title in the last three seasons. The Appleknockers then won their first sectional title in 28 years and the Super-Sectional to advance to the Final Four for only the second time joining the 1987 team (38-1) that finished second.
Partridge has seven starters back led by seniors Logan Spalt, J.T. Moore and Theron Sweitzer.
"We're pretty well set going into the season," Partridge said. "Logan and J.T. are going to be 1 and 1A on the mound. The wildcard is Sweitzer. He was a our four or five guy last year, but he had a really good fall."
Spalt was the top pitcher posting a 14-1 record with an 0.49 ERA and the starting shortstop. He led the team with a 42 RBIs and was the second leading batter with a .456 batting average.
Moore is the centerfielder and led the team with a .460 batting average with 30 RBIs. Moore will replace Parker Flamm as the No. 2 pitcher.
Sweitzer is the third baseman and had 35 RBIs while batting .383.
The other returning starters are John Russell, Trevor Middleton, Dylan Duty and Jacob Furlow.
Also in 1A, Goreville won its 10th regional title in the past 11 years, Shawnee its ninth straight regional title and Century its first regional title since 1987.
In 2A, Du Quoin (26-11) advanced to the Super-Sectional for the first time since 2011 where the Indians lost to third place Teutopolis.
"We felt with the talent that we had we could make a really deep run," said coach Tim Craft. "We dealt with some injuries and didn't feel we could get that far, but everything fell into place late in the season and we got a run."
Craft has some rebuilding to do having to replace his top pitcher and hitter from the last four years A.J. Smith along with his top two pitchers. He has a solid core back to build around with seniors Brock Bullar, Dalton Day, Ryne O'Rourke and Cole Hopkins along with juniors Braden Lee and Jordan Edwards.
"Dalton, Braden and Jordan all saw quite a bit of time on the mound last year, so they are ready to step up to the challenge," Craft said. "With sophomore Ashton Smith ready to be the starting catcher Brock is moving to short. Cole is sliding from right to center with a battle for second base and right field."
Also in 2A, Harrisburg won its sixth straight regional title and 14 of the last 15. Carmi-White County won its second straight regional title and Nashville won its second regional title in the last three years. Murphysboro, West Frankfort, Carterville and Pinckneyville are also up-and-coming teams.
In 3A, Mount Vernon (29-7) beat Herrin to win its second regional title in the last three years before losing the sectional final to state champion Highland.
"Last year was a great year for us getting to the sectional final for the fourth time since 2010, but it ended with a tough loss to the state champion," said coach Tim Holloway. "We will have 10 seniors this year with five of them two-year starters to make another run."
Holloway has five senior starters returning, including his pitching staff Blake Jones, Gunner Lundius, Darick Hayes, Aaren Morgan and Reed Millwood.
"Blake pitched really well for us," Holloway said. "Blake McPherson and Jeremiah Lyday will be battling at second base and we have several players competing for the two outfield jobs."