Fukuoka has 2 stages for their prefectural, but their 1st stage narrows the field down to 8.
In the Hokubu Regionals, no surprise that Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku advanced, same goes for Iidzuka (who defeated Jiyuugaoka 7-3 in the final). Over down south in the Nanbu Regionals, Higashi-Fukuoka and Chikuyou Gakuen also advanced.
So onto the quarterfinals, and on Day 1, Iidzuka advanced with little issue over Nogata while Higashi-Fukuoka were upended by Kurume Shougyou.
Meanwhile, Moji Gakuen were able to rebound after Fukuokadai Oohori tied the game in the 9th to win 3-2 in 10. But more surprising was that Chikuyou Gakuen fired a winning shot in the 9th to defeat Kyukoku 6-5!
The upsets continued into the semifinals where Iidzuka and Chikuyou Gakuen never led in their semifinal matches, thus putting Kurume Shougyou and Moji Gakuen into the finals!
Kurume Shougyou would clinch the title with a 4-0 shutout, but both teams will advance to the Super-Regionals.
Ok, for as much crap I give Saga Kita because they crushed my dear Kouryou at Natsu Koushien so mercilessly they are a private school, and as a private school generally have better odds of being a good team - and they are.
Despite not being a seeded team, they defeated Karatsu Shougyou and Saga Shougyou on their way to the finals.
On the other half, Saga Gakuen probably was one of the favorites, but Kanzaki Seimei put a stop to that with a 8-1 mercy rule win and went through the rest of the bracket to the finals.
In the finals, Saga Kita put pressure on Kanzaki Seimei all game and had never trailed. That was until a 3-spot in the 7th gave Kanzaki the 5-4 lead.
But they couldn't close it out. Saga Kita would tie the game in the 8th, and pull ahead in the 9th for a 6-5 win for their 2nd consecutive fall title (9th overall).
Nagasaki was a tale of two halves - of the bracket that is...
One one side, it was all chalk. Sasebo Jitsugyou and Nagasaki Nichidai barreled towards each other in a semifinal matchup. In that matchup, the teams just combined for 6 total hits (2 and 4 respectively). The difference though was probably the errors. Sasebo Jitsugyou committed 4 errors in the game as Nagasaki Nichidai went on to a 3-0 win and a spot in the Super-Regionals.
The other half saw things shaken up. Seihou, who wasn't seeded never had to face seeded Sasebo Shougyou but wound up giving up 3 runs in the 8th and losing to Souseikan, who themselves were passed up not too long ago in the selection process due to a bad semifinal game.
Meanwhile, Hasami continues to show good strength and despite also being unseeded defeated a seeded Nagasaki Sougou Kagaku but couldn't survive a shootout against unknown Isahaya.
Isahaya continued their cinderella run, defeating Souseikan 5-3 to reach the finals. Their dreams for a fall title would end though as Nagasaki Nichidai easily handled them 9-2 for their 12th fall title (and first since 2007).
In Oita, outside of a slow start by some teams, Oita Nishi, Meihou, Youshikan and Touin all reached the semis without much trouble.
Meihou would blank Oita Nishi 2-0, and in a bit of a shocker, Youshikan limited Touin to just 1 run in a 3-1 victory assuring them only their 3rd trip to the Super-Regionals!
Of course, facing Meihou, there were expected to finish as the runner-up. But instead they outscored Meihou 5-1 in the final 3 innings to win 6-3, thus claiming their 2nd ever fall title! (Their last appearance and title were 19 years ago)
There were a lot of regulars back in the seeded ranks of the Miyazaki taikai. Nichinan Gakuen, Nobeoka Gakuen and Nisshou Gakuen specifically.
Nichinan Gakuen though lost in the semifinals to Miyazaki Gakuen - a bit of an upset as ace Ryou failed to close the game in the bottom of the 9th, giving up 3 runs and losing 3-2. Miyazaki Gakuen in turn would lose to familiar Miyazaki Nichidai in the quarterfinals. Nobeoka Gakuen was able to advance despite having to play St. Ursula and Miyakonojyou Shougyou.
Unknown Houshou was the last seeded team, but couldn't get past Nobeoka Kougyou in the 3rd round.
The semifinals saw Nisshou Gakuen advance easily past Takanabe (who had advanced out of Houshou's bracket), while a 4-spot in the 6th sent Miyazaki Nichidai to the title. Nisshou Gakuen would claim the top spot with an easy 12-5 win.
I liked the story of Seiseikou. I had kind of wished they'd go further at Koushien, but there's not a lot you can do when you have to face Osaka Touin...
But it does look like they've been able to brunt the loss of players and outside of a 4-1 win over Kumamoto Shougyou, were able to easily reach the finals - denying Jyouhoku in the semifinals again (Hitsuyuukan did it in the Natsu taikai).
Meanwhile, Kumamoto Kougyou had to navigate a minefield to advance through the brackets. After an uncharacteristic blowout over Shuugakukan, they played the aforementioned Hitsuyuukan, then went 10 innings against Kumamoto Kokufu and a surging Kumamoto Kita to reach the finals themselves.
Seiseikou will go to the Super-Regionals, but as the 2nd seed as Kumamoto Kougyou summits the top with an easy 6-0 win.
Kamimura Gakuen had looked to continue to prove they're still the top dog in the prefecture advancing out of their quadrant without opposition. Things looked even better when their main blockade to the Super-Regionals, Kagoshima Jitsugyou, fell to Shoushikan 3-2 in the 3rd round. But then they annihilated Kagoshima Jyousai in the quarterfinals and there was probably cause for concern.
Rightly so as Kamimura Gakuen would wind up losing 3-1. Meanwhile, on the other side, Shounan and Kagoshima Jyouhou did have a hiccup along the way, but digested teams en route to a semifinal showdown. That became a defensive affair as Kagoshima Jyouhou outscored Shounan 2-1 in the first 3 innings, then held serve the rest of the way.
In the finals, Kagoshima Jyouhou would limit Shounan to just 1 run on 5 hits and take the fall title 2-1.
I really wished Maebara had won last summer. It seemed like a one-shot deal.
It was. Against Misato in the first round they lost 4-1... *sighs* oh well...
Instead, the Okinawa taikai was filled with the usual suspects - Miyako, Kadena, Ginoza, Okinawa Shougaku, Kounan, and even the aforementioned Misato.
There is little to go on outside of scores, and the final 4 consisted of 4 regulars. Miyako scored in the top of the 1st to take the lead, but were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game. They would fall short, losing 5-4.
Kounan and Okinawa Shougyou by name alone implied a hard-fought game, and it was. Okinawa Shougaku took a 2-0 lead over Kounan before Uehara blasted a HR to tie the game. The deadlock would not be decided until the 10th when Okinawa Shougyou pushed in the go-ahead run to advance to the finals.
And in the finals, it looked like the semifinal game took a lot out of Okishou as Ginoza took the lead in the 1st and won wire-to-wire 5-3 to earn their 4th ever title - their first in 10 years (it's their 8th appearance overall).
The draw for the Super-Regionals are as follows:
- Kagoshima Jyouhou (Kagoshima 1) vs. Winner of Kanzaki Seimei (Saga 2)-Souseikan (Nagasaki 3/4)
- Kurume Shougyou (Fukuoka 1) vs. Meihou (Oita 2)
- Kumamoto Kougyou (Kumamoto 1) vs. Isahaya (Nagasaki 2)
- Nisshou Gakuen (Miyazaki 1) vs. Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa 2)
- Nagasaki Nichidai (Nagasaki 1) vs. Moji Gakuen (Fukuoka 2)
- Saga Kita (Saga 1) vs. Soushikan (Kagoshima 2)
- Youshikan (Oita 1) vs. Seiseikou (Kumamoto 2)
- Ginowan (Okinawa 1) vs. Winner of Miyazaki Nichidai (Miyazaki 2)-Sasebo Jitsugyou (Nagasaki 3/4)
It will be a border battle in the 3rd round probably as Saga Kita will be playing on Nagasaki Nichidai's home turf.
Okinawa Shougaku is back in the mix for Senbatsu, but Kumamoto Kougyou looms large in the pivotal 3rd round.