So, the draw is out, and I'll be covering each of the brackets:
Iiduzka (Fukuoka) vs. Hirsohima Kougyou (Hiroshima)
Saga Kita (Saga) vs. Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
Saku Chousei (Nagano) vs. Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate) vs. Risshoudai Shounan (Shimane)
Saga Kita gets a not-so-easy matchup againt Sendai Ikuei, but Sendai Ikuei is not one of the favorites either. Hiroshima Kougyou draws Iidzuka, who is no newcomer to Koushien, but is just about one. They may be able to get out of the first round after all. Moriokadai Fukzoku, the team that denied Hanamaki Higashi draws Risshoudai Shounan. Risshoudai Shounan may need another miracle this year too.
In the end though, Sakushin Gakuin, one of my dark horses, actually gets what appears to be a favorable draw.
Imabari Nishi (Ehime) vs. Toukou Gakuen (Kanagawa)
Kitsuki (Oita) vs. Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki)
Urasoe Shougyou (Okinawa) vs. Aikoudai Meiden (Aichi)
Takigawa Dai-ni (Hyogo) vs. Kita-Ootsu (Shiga)
Ouch. Aikoudai Meiden has no favors given to them as they draw Urasoe Shougyou. They'll be tested immediately. However the reward for the winner of that match is a favorable bracket to the Best 8 though Takigawa Dai-ni may be a trap game.
Elsewhere, Toukou Gakuen and Kitsuki both have a chance to get past their first round game, which is all you can ask for. Kita-Ootsu draws the aforementioned Takigawa Dai-ni, and will have difficulty making it out of the opening game.
Tenri (Nara) vs. Miyazaki Kougyou (Miyazaki)
Tottori Jyouhoku (Tottori) vs. Kagawa Nishi (Kagawa)
Takasaki Shougyou (Gunma) vs. Urawa Gakuin (Saitama)
Nichidai-san (Nishi Tokyo) vs. Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima)
Sanko too gets a favorable draw. Seikou Gakuin, while representing Fukushima now for the 6th straight year, has not shown an ability to really hang with the top-flight teams of the tournament. And Sanko should not have any problems reaching the Best 8 - which puts them in a great spot to repeat as Natsu Koushien champions.
Tenri has a chance to at least advance to the group final against Sanko, but it will be seen how they do this year. Tottori Jyouhoku will be looking to make up for their poor showing in the spring.
Ube Koujyou (Yamaguchi) vs. Toyama Kougyou (Toyama)
Sasebo Jitsugyou (Nagasaki) vs. Sapporo Dai-ichi (Minami Hokkaido)
Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto) vs. Asahikawa Kougyou (Kita Hokkaido)
Seiritsu Gakuen (Higashi Tokyo) vs. Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi)
Wow, I've never seen a group of 8 that really didn't have a favorite per se. Probably if I had to choose one, it would be Sapporo Dai-ichi as they have shown to be no slouches despite being from the great white north.
Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine!
Kousei Gakuin (Aomori) vs. Yuugakukan (Ishikawa)
Chiben Wakayama (Wakayama) vs. Kamimura Gakuen (Kagoshima)
If Kousei Gakuin wants to reach the finals again, it may have to go through Chiben Wakayama. Despite getting one less game, it didn't get much help otherwise.
Naruto (Tokushima) vs. Seiseiko (Kumamoto)
Osaka Touin (Osaka) vs. Kisaradzu Sougou (Chiba)
Osaka Touin does get help. They also get one less game (good for Fujinami), and may not have any challengers outside of perhaps Naruto.
Niigata Meikun (Niigata) vs. Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu)
Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi) vs. Sakata Minami (Yamagata)
There may be familiar faces in this bracket, but none that are contenders. Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou and Niigata Meikun did have a great performance last time each appeared, though it's been a couple of years off for each team.
Kurashiki Shougyou (Okayama) vs. Matsusaka (Mie)
Akita Shougyou (Akita) vs. Winner of Tokoha Tachibana (Shizuoka) vs. Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)
The picture is even more muddled here. None of these teams have shown recent success at Koushien (in Matsusaka's case, they have no track record). I think we'll see a lot of close games or blowouts.
As you can see, the draw has for the most part spread out a lot of the good teams across the brackets, and there are brackets where if you want it, you can have a bid in the Best 8.
A lot of favorites have good paths to the quarterfinals if they can take care of business. But, nothing is ever certain, and so the games will be played - some decisive, others with no winner determined until the last batter.
Should be interesting - as it always is.