Shiga has the basic single elimination system, and it has gone for the most part surprisingly scratch as they move onto the semifinals and finals this weekend.
Not surprisingly Hikone Higashi is back on the warpath again, and score-wise looks the best of the rest remaining with 2 mercy rule wins. They will face Oumi, who survived a 12-inning game against Hieizan - certainly not a pushover, but could put the team's strength into question.
On the other half could be Hikone Higashi's biggest threat - Oumi Kyoudaisha. Admittedly, they too had a close call against Shiga Gakuen in the quarterfinals (much like Oumi), and they showed promise in the summer too, but they defeated Oumi in the summer and the offense seems stronger.
Interestingly, Oumi Kyoudaisha's opponent will be a rematch of their 1st round game in the summer - Youkaichi. The offense surely looks strong, but the pitching seems the weakest of the lot and they haven't played really tough competition.
Aw... Kyoto Gaidai Nishi can't get up for the Super-regionals again...
Kyoto too is in the semifinals, and there is one outlier who will be trying to fight for a spot in the Super-regionals - Nishi-Jyouyou. They didn't face much competition and has not dominated them either. To secure a spot they will have to defeat Ryuukokudai Heian who most recently annihilated Kyoto Seishou 11-2.
On the other side, Ritsumeikan Uji was challenged by Ritsumeikan proper then had to outslug the aforementioned Kyoto Gaidai Nishi 10-5. They will face the other long school name (see what I mean about scratch?) Fukuchiyama Seibi. An uncharacteristic 11-8 game against Nissei puts up a red flag, but settled down afterwards for 4-0 and 5-1 wins.
Sakurai not surprisingly couldn't duplicate their success in the summer.
However, this time around (so far anyways), Chiben Gakuen is still alive - though a 2-0 and 11-5 wins against no-name teams do not bode well. They should have no trouble with Nara Tousen... maybe. They will face the winner of Kashiba (who narrowly lost to Sakurai in the summer) and Kansai Chuo.
Yamato Kouryou's been inconsistent, but gets to face a Kashihara Gakuin team who too has failed to live up to expectations. Naradai Fuzoku, who was one game away from reaching Natsu Koushien, will look to get to Haru Koushien with unknown Heijyou immediately standing in the way.
Wakayama has the weird thing of having a tournament just to advance 4 into the quarterfinals, then having the remaining teams later compete in blocks for the other 4. Chiben Wakayama obviously took the time to qualify the first time around, cruising comfortably until they qualified where they might have send out the reserves so as to not tip off the competition. Still, they got to the finals where they lost to Shinguu 6-3, though that result doesn't matter. Also advancing was Kainan and Shiritsu Wakayama.
The rest would have to battle it out again, and the ones that climbed out of the ruckus were:
- Kinkidai Shinguu, who will have an intercity battle with Shinguu
- Tanabe, who will face Kainan to start
- Arita Chuo, who drew the short straw and will face Chiben Wakayama leaving
- Kouyasan to play Shiritsu Wakayama.
With only 2 bids up for grabs in the major prefectures, it's all out for all the schools from Osaka and Hyogo - and that generally doesn't bode well for the non-powerhouse schools...
But there was a small victory for them as Riseisha and Osaka Touin would have to play in the round of 32. Surprisingly, Riseisha mercy ruled Osaka Touin 13-1 in 5 innings! Guess they have a bit of rebuilding to do.
Still though, that means that Riseisha has the inside rail at one of the two spots, and with PL Gakuen obliterating teams on the other half, it is a steep climb for the other 14 schools.
I don't know if it is a down cycle in Hyogo, but the powerhouse teams seem to be on the same part of the cycle.
I say this because in the quarterfinals, only one powerhouse managed to survive and they barely got away. Houtoku Gakuen edged out Akashi Shougyou 3-2 and will face an Ichikawa team who beat Suma Gakuen 2-1 in 12.
The other side was supposed to be a Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku vs. Touyoudai Himeji affair, but both teams wound up losing! Sanda Shousei would beat Kobe 3-2 in 10 innings, while Yashiro had the largest margin of victory in the quarters - a 4-2 win over Himeji.
This bodes well for Houtoku as they should advance to the Super-regionals (sorry Ichikawa), while Sanda Shouei and Yashiro will battle it out for a rare spot in the Super-regionals.