Friday, January 25, 2013

The 85th Senbatsu field and initial reaction...

So the field is announced, and there are some surprises, though I did manage to predict most of the field (though with many teams secure, it's not that hard):

  • 北照 - Hokushou (Otaru-shi) - 5th overall, 2nd consecutive - B-

  • 仙台育英 - Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi, Sendai-shi) - 10th appearance, 1st in 6 years - A-
  • 聖光学院 - Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima, Koori-machi) - 4th appearance, 2nd consecutive - B
  • 盛岡大付属 - Moriokadai Fuzoku (Tohoku Memorial Bid, Iwate, Morioka-shi) - 3rd appearance, 1st in 3 years - C-
  • 青森山田 - Aomori Yamada (Tohoku Meiji Jingu Bid, Aomori, Aomori-shi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 8 years - C
  •  山形中央 - Yamagata Chuo (Meiji Jingu Bid, Yamagata, Yamagata-shi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 3 years
Kanto ex/Tokyo
  • 浦和学院 - Urawa Gakuin (Saitama, Saitama-shi) - 9th appearance, 3rd consecutive - B
  • 花咲徳栄 - Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama, Kazo-shi) - 3rd appearance, 1st in 3 years - B-
  • 常総学院 - Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki, Tsuchiura-shi) - 7th appearance, 1st in 8 years - C
  • 宇都宮商 - Utsunomiya Shougyou (Tochigi, Utsunomiya-shi) - 3rd appearance, 1st in 34 years - C-
  • 安田学園 - Yasuda Gakuen (Sumida-ku) - 1st appearance - B
  • 早稲田実 - Waseda Jitsugyou (Kokubunji-shi) - 20th appearance, 1st in 3 years - B
  • 春江工 - Harue Kougyou (Fukui, Sakai-shi) - 1st appearance - B-
  • 敦賀気比- Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui, Tsuruga-shi) - 5th appearance, 2nd consecutive - C
  • 県岐阜商 - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu, Gifu-shi) - 27th appearance, 1st in 18 years! - C+
  • 菰野 - Komono (Mie, Komono-shi) - 1st appearance - C
  • 常葉菊川 - Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka, Kikugawa-shi) - 4th appearance, 1st in 5 years - C
  • 京都翔英 - Kyoto Shouei (Kyoto, Uji-shi) - 1st appearance - B
  • 報徳学園 - Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo, Nishinomiya-shi) - 19th appearance, 1st in 2 years - B+
  • 龍谷大平安 - Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto, Kyoto-shi) - 37th appearance, 1st in 5 years - B-
  • 大阪桐蔭 - Osaka Touin (Osaka, Daitou-shi) - 6th appearance, 2nd consecutive - B+
  • 履正社 - Riseisha (Osaka, Toyonaka-shi) - 5th appearance, 3rd consecutive - B-
  • 大和広陵 - Yamato Kouryou (Nara, Kouryou-machi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 28 years - B-
  • 関西 - Kanzei (Okayama, Okayama-shi) - 12th appearance, 3rd consecutive - B+
  • 広陵 - Kouryou (Hiroshima, Hiroshima-shi) - 23rd appearance, 1st in 3 years - C+
  • 岩国商 - Iwakuni Shougyou (Yamaguchi, Iwakuni-shi) - 1st appearance - C+
  • 高知 - Kochi (Kochi, Kochi-shi) - 17th appearance, 2nd consecutive -C+
  • 鳴門 - Naruto (Tokushima, Naruto-shi) - 8th appearance, 2nd consecutive - C
  • 済美 - Saibi (Ehime, Matsuyama-shi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 9 years - B-
  • 沖縄尚学 - Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa, Naha-shi) - 5th appearance, 1st in 5 years - B
  • 済々黌 - Seiseikou (Kumamoto, Kumamoto-shi) - 4th appearance, 1st in 55 years!! - C+
  • 尚志館- Shoushikan (Kagoshima, Shibushi-shi) - 1st appearance - C-
  • 創成館 - Souseikan (Nagasaki, Isahaya-shi) - 1st appearance - C-
21st Century Bids
  • Higashi-Nihon (東日本) - 遠軽 - Engaru (Hokkaido, Engaru-machi) - 1st appearance
  • Higashi-Nihon (東日本) - いわき海星 - Iwaki Kaisei (Fukushima, Iwaki-shi) - 1st appearance
  • Nishi-Nihon (西日本) - 門司学園-- Moji Gakuen (Fukuoka, Kitakyushu-shi) - 1st appearance
  • Nishi-Nihon (西日本) - 土佐 - Tosa (Kochi, Kochi-shi) - 7th appearance, 1st in 20 years
  • Wild Card 1 - 五泉 - Gosen (Niigata, Gosen-shi) - 1st appearance
  • Wild Card 1 - 遠軽 - Engaru (Hokkaido, Engaru-machi) - 1st appearance
  • Wild Card 2 - 土佐 - Tosa (Kochi, Kochi-shi) - 7th appearance, 1st in 20 years
  • Wild Card 2 - 益田翔陽 - Masuda Shouyou (Shimane, Masuda-shi) - 1st appearance
So, of the field of 32 selected via Fall Taikai play, it would appear Aomori Yamada got the snub.  But not for Sakata Minami, but Yamagata Chuo!  I find that selection a bit surprising given the fact that indeed the committee passed on Sakata Minami.  Aomori Yamada was in their game against Sendai Ikuei all the way to the end, while Yamagata Chuo waited until late to charge against Seikou Gakuin.

I don't see any quick tip-off as to why Yamagata Chuo would be selected, but fact of the matter is, they have the invite and are on their way come March.

Also, Tenri's welcome has worn off.  Chiben Gakuen has been taking their share, and now - for the first time in over 30 years a team not named Tenri or Chiben Gakuen goes to Koushien!  Yamato Kouryou and their ace will try to carry the flag for the prefecture.  Don't let us down!

The other shocking thing for me were the 21st Century Bids.  Engaru didn't outright get the Higashi-Nihon bid, instead the selection committee selected Iwaki Kaisei.  The fact they got the primary bid and not one of the wild cards shows that the committee really wanted to stress the Tohoku Earthquake - in addition to the Tohoku Friendship bid AND the extra Meiji Jingu bid.

Engaru still managed to get in though, thanks to one of the wild cards.

Tosa was rewarded by the committee with their 1st appearance in 3 consecutive tries at the 21st Century - and was in fact given the primary Nishi-Nihon bid.

I thought then that Moji Gakuen would be selected as the 2nd wild card, but the committee decided to go all rural and select Masuda Shouyou out of Shimane!

Since this was the final wild-card, all teams were in theory in play.  Realistically though, if I had to include Masuda Shouyou in the discussion, it would have been against Gosen and Moji Gakuen.  And it seemed like both had a better resume than Masuda Shouyou.  Especially if you consider name brand - just like Soujitsu (Waseda Jitsugyou).

But Gosen could have been hurt by the indirect fact that Tsuruga Kehi (whom they lost to in the Super-Regional) lost 2-1 in the final to first-timers Harue Kougyou.  This could have signaled a weaker Super-Regional and thus hurt Gosen's chances.

Moji Gakuen's loss to Nagaski Nichidai could also have been indirectly hurt because Nagasaki Nichidai lost convincingly to Shoushikan who in turn got mercy ruled by Okinawa Shougaku.

The argument loses steam though when applied to Masuda Shougyou themselves.  They lost to Iwakuni, who in turn was mercy-ruled by Kanzei in the semifinals.  Even a mercy-rule win over Hayatomo in between probably wouldn't have been of any help.

So, the question would be evaluating the three teams circumstances.  And the committee decided on Masuda Shouyou.

In the coming days, I'll review the teams that I did not cover in my previews.

But for now, the field is officially out and teams will hit the grounds preparing until the first pitch is thrown on March 22nd.

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