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Oki-Sho HS Baseball Team Captures National Title

By: Tomoko Matsudo

Date Posted: 1999-04-10

A lifelong dream for all Okinawans came true Sunday when Okinawa Shogaku High School baseball team won the 71st National High School Baseball Spring Tournament at the famed Koshien Stadium. Okinawa Shogaku clinched the championship with a 7-2 drubbing of Mito Shogyo High School team from Ibaragi Prefecture.

The historic win marked only the second time a team from Okinawa Shogaku High School had participated in the nation's top high school baseball tournament, after an absence of 31 years. It also marked the first time a baseball team from Okinawa had clinched a championship in any nation-wide high school baseball tournament.

Okinawa went into the final game without ace pitcher Kimiya Higa, who was badly fatigued after an extended stay on the mound against PL Gakuen a day earlier. That game went for a full 12 innings before Oki-Sho managed to pull ahead and eke out an 8-6 win.

In Higa's absence, Shogo Teruya, Oki-Sho's second-string pitcher, proved particularly effective clearing the plate with some wonderful control. Credit, however, must go to the whole team, who responded to the challenge - and the pressure - in their pursuit of a national title. Despite many tight situations, teamwork was pivotal to their success, with all players putting in top efforts.

About 3,000 fans greeted the team's arrival at Naha Airport and at Okinawa Shogaku High School Monday to celebrate the achievement, including Okinawa Prefecture Governor Keiichi Inamine. Moreover, the triumph at Koshien has met with such fervor, some prefectural officials have already aired thoughts of honoring the team with the Prefectural Honorary Award.

Meanwhile in Tokyo, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi offered his congratulations to Oki-Sho in a message following the team's victory.

"I tried to call the governor of Okinawa and the principal of the school (Sunday) but couldn't reach them because they had apparently left for Koshien. I'd like to offer them my deepest congratulations on Okinawa's first title," the prime minister said.

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