Monday, February 17, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Chiben Gakuen (Nara)

With Tenri having faded into the depths of Nara's anonymity, Chiben Gakuen has planted their flag as the top team in the prefecture.  And they could be in a more dormy position than brethren school Chiben Wakayama as Nara is certainly weaker from top to bottom than Wakayama.  Sure, with only one school dominating the prefecture, there isn't the ironclad grip that other areas have - remember, Sakurai won this past summer. But for Chiben Gakuen, the title in Nara will be theirs to lose.

Road to Senbatsu
Nara Prefecturals
  • def. Nara 2-0
  • def. Houryuuji Kokusai 11-5
  • def. Nara Tousen 7-0 (7 inn)
  • def. Kashiba 12-0 (5 inn)
  • def. Naradai Fuzoku 11-7
Kinki Super-Regionals
  • def. Youkaichi 8-0 (7 inn)
  • lost Ryuukokudai Heian 2-1
I say all that stuff in the introduction, then you look at their resume and it looks especially weak.  There is the unusual 2-0 won against Nara in the first round, and despite a win 11-5 over Houryuuji Kokusai they didn't get a mercy-rule shortened game.  And then versus Naradai Fuzoku in the final, starter Oda Kyouhei (尾田 恭平) struggled, giving up a 5-run lead and 7 runs in all before his team bailed him out.

The super-regionals went about the same as they handled unknown Youkaichi with little trouble before having their offense stonewalled by Heian.

Oda throws slower than average (high 120s), with the standard curve and slider.  Reliever Okamoto Kazuma (岡本 和真) is actually their 1B as well as their #4 batter.

I suppose there can be some players on offense to mention for Chiben Gakuen - 2nd batter CF Oonishi Ryouta (大西 涼太) and 3rd batter SS Yoshioka Ikuya (吉岡 郁哉) but the problem I find is that in their one real game against a Koushien power, they managed just 6 hits and none of the extra base variety.  It is one game, but it's hard to take any of the other games seriously given Chiben Gakuen's status in the past as well as the weakness of Nara prefecture in general.

If they run into weaker competition, they can take those games, but the minute they run into more stiffer competition, I think it will be hard for them to advance.

Next up, we move on to the Chuugoku region and champions Iwakuni.

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