Thursday, February 13, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)

And now for the hometown favorites Houtoku Gakuen.  Here for the 2nd straight year, they're trying to revive themselves as a true title contender as their success in their backyard (the stadium is just a 15 minute drive down Mukougawa) has waned in recent years.

Road to Senbatsu
Hanshin Regionals - D Block
  • def. Takaradzuka 9-0 (7 inn)
  • def. Kenritsu Amagasaki 11-1 (5 inn)
  • def. Nishinomiya Higashi 8-1 (7 inn)
Hyogo Prefecturals
Kinki Super-Regionals
And herein lies the problem for Houtoku Gakuen.  They did not really face a upper tier team until the quarterfinals of the super-regionals.  And for the most part they did what they were supposed to - have a mercy-rule victory.  The only exceptions being a game against unknown Akashi Shougyou where a good draft prospect, Matsumoto Wataru (松本 航) who throws in the low 140s, shut down Houtoku for 6 innings.  The other being a game against Kansaidai Hokuyou where ace Nakamura Makoto (中村 誠) struggled to keep his team in the game.

#10 Tanaka Kazuma (田中 和馬) is the other pitcher mainly used by kantoku Nagata Yuuji (永田 裕治).  Another less used option is C Kishida Yukinori (岸田 行倫) though he also plays SS (?!).

What's a bit puzzling is that I saw pictures of Nakamura wearing #2 and Kishida wearing #6, which begged the question of who was the ace during that time... but I digress.

What's odd is that outside of the boxscores, I cannot get any more information on other players other than digests of complete games.  Ishigaki Shouji (石垣 昭二) is their 3B and has had several extra base hits in the super-regionals.  The aforementioned Kishida also was successful at the plate, but the XBH were against lesser competition.  SS Tsuchiya Yuusuke (土谷 勇輔) and 2B Mishina Hayato (三品 勇人) may provide solid defensive work on the left side.

But with little information on the actual players, it generally means there are no big stars on the team. Not that it's necessarily an indicator of how successful a team can be (hello, Maebashi Ikuei) though. But a team that's lightly tested and who struggled against fellow Koushien participants does not give the team positive marks for a long run unless they get an easier road.

Next up, fellow semifinalist Riseisha!

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