Due to circumstances outside of my control, a convention I assist with is occurring Thursday-Sunday next week. This means I'll either fully or partially miss games on days 9-12 of the tournament. I'll go back and watch the games and do a write-up for them, but will not have the benefit of watching them for analyzing the championship game.
That out of the way, onto the draw:
Quadrant 1 - The "Show Me" Quadrant
- Naruto (Tokushima) vs. Utusnomiya Shougyou (Tochigi) - Day 2, Game 2
- Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) vs. Masuda Shouyou (Shimane) - Day 2, Game 3
- Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate) vs. Yasuda Gakuen (Tokyo) - Day 2, Game 4
- Kyoto Shouei (Kyoto) vs. (Winner of) - Day 5, Game 3
- Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) vs. Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa) - Day 1, Game 1
It's another reason why the name fits. Okinawa Shougaku, whose last appearance 5 years ago resulted in winning it all, will have to go from deep in the brackets to repeat the feat. First up is the aforementioned Tsuruga Kehi, familiar in name, but not necessarily as strong this year.
I expect Seikou Gakuin to reach the end of the quadrant and face Okinawa Shougaku (though not without a tough game against Yasuda Gakuen). Okinawa Shougaku will move to the semis.
Quadrant 2 - Now is the time
- Shoushikan (Kagoshima) vs. Yamato Kouryou (Nara) - Day 3, Game 1
- Komono (Mie) vs. Hokushou (Hokkaido) - Day 3, Game 2
- Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) vs. Tosa (Kochi) - Day 3, Game 3
- Yamagata Chuo (Yamagata) vs. (Winner of) - Day 6, Game 2
- Riseisha (Osaka) vs. Iwakuni Shougyou (Yamaguchi) - Day 1, Game 2
For the rest of the teams, now is also the time to make a decent run. Iwakuni Shougyou, Yamagata Chuo and Tosa it might be a bit harder, but the opportunity is there to get to the quarterfinals.
I am most interested in the team from Nara not named Tenri or Chiben Gakuen. Yamato Kouryou has an above average ace in Tachita Shouta, but like Toukou Gakuen's Matsui Yuuki, he cannot do everything himself.
Urawa Gakuin has the inside track to the semifinals, but with no team showing either a huge display of offense or a staff ace, do not be surprised if someone else emerges out of this bracket.
Quadrant 3 - Survive and advance
- Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) vs. Souseikan (Nagasaki) - Day 4, Game 1
- Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto) vs. Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo) - Day 4, Game 2
- Kanzei (Okayama) vs. Kochi (Kochi) - Day 4, Game 3
- Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) vs. (Winner of) - Day 6, Game 1
- Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka) vs. Harue Kougyou (Fukui) - Day 1, Game 3
Sendai Ikuei, probably considered one of the favorites if not the overall favorite, winds up in a bracket with Heian, Soujitsu, Kanzei, and Houtoku Gakuen. Oy.
Tokoha Kikugawa finally pokes their head back into Koushien after a 5-year drought. But they get the short end of the stick and have to play an extra game. Harue Kougyou also suffers from bad luck. Win their first ever super-regional title, draw an extra game - and then Houtoku Gakuen should they win.
It will truly be a survive and advance bracket. Teams will be beaten and battered as they advance out of this quadrant. And because of that Sendai Ikuei - a favorite to win it all, may not make it out of this quadrant. Even if they do, they may have to empty their tank to do so.
The top contenders to oust the front-runners are probably Kanzei and Houtoku Gakuen, but as mentioned it will not be easy.
Quadrant 4 - As easy as 1-2-3?
- Saibi (Ehime) vs. Kouryou (Hiroshima) - Day 5, Game 1
- Seiseikou (Kumamoto) vs. Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki) - Day 5, Game 2
- Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) vs. Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) - Day 6, Game 3
- Osaka Touin (Osaka) vs. (Winner of) - Day 7, Game 1
- Engaru (Hokkaido) vs. Iwaki Kaisei (Fukushima) - Day 2, Game 1
And if the draw favored any one team the most it would be them. They should get a warmup game against one of the 21st century schools in their opening round, then will dive in to the bracket. However, they by far are the favorites to advance out of this quadrant, and will face in all likelihood a battered opponent.
It's rather unfortunate for Engaru and Iwaki Kaisei. Each into their first Koushien as a 21st century team, and they have to face either other. Not only that, but win and face Osaka Touin? The two teams are playing for one victory and no more.
Seiseikou is given a chance again to advance. It won't be a cake walk, but a potential rematch with Osaka Touin actually is a possibility.
If Saibi's ace Anraku can last 9 innings, maybe they might be the team that wrecks Osaka Touin's plans.
There is the high possibility that most of these brackets will be scratch into the semifinals. But in that time, many teams have a decent possibility to at least stand at home plate and sing their school song. Once rosters are out, I'll get those translated as best as possible and get the writeups for the games.
Just 4 days to go!