Friday, February 21, 2014

32 teams in 32 days - Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa)

Okinawa Shougaku has shown promise in recent times, but have yet to put the whole package together for that special run that other schools have been able to do.  Last summer they got to the 3rd round but were upset by unknown Seiai.  They managed to win it all in the fall... but the question will be whether or not they can do it again.

Road to Senbatsu
Okinawa Prefecturals
  • def. Kounan 2-0
  • def. Yokatsu 8-0 (8 inn)
  • def. Mawashi 2-0
  • def. Ginowan 10-0 (5 inn)
  • lost Misato Kougyou 3-0 (10 inn)
Kyushu Super-Regionals
  • def. Nichinan Gakuen 3-1
  • def. Hasami 9-1 (7 inn)
  • def. Chinzei 4-1
  • def. Misato Kougyou 4-3
Meiji Jingu Tournament
Yamashiro Daichi (山城 大智) takes over as the teams ace, and did a wonderful job throughout the prefecturals not allowing a run until the 10th inning of the finals where Misato Kougyou scored 3.

He would get back to work in the super-regionals, going the distance in each of the first 3 games allowing just a run a piece.  Kantoku Higa Kouya (比嘉 公也) would continue to go with Daichi in the rematch in the finals (again!).  However after giving up 3 runs over 5 innings, Higa would try to go with Kamizato Kounosuke (神里 廣之介).  However, he did not even record an out before Higa went back to his ace.  Daichi would hold down the fort just enough for his team to come back with a pair of runs in the 8th inning for the gyakuten victory.  This despite the fact that they had just 5 hits on the day (they did manage 6 walks from the Misato duo of Nagamine Tsubasa (長嶺 飛翔) and Iha Tomokazu (伊波 友和).

Kamizato would get another chance on the mount, starting the game against Iwakuni, and did manage to go 2 innings in the shortened affair.  But it looked like Higa-kantoku had possibly found another reliever in Kubo Shuuto (久保 柊人) to spell Daichi.  He came in in each of the first 2 games, going 6 against Kanto Dai-ichi, and closing the game out in the 9th versus Komadai Tomakomai.

However, the success was marred in the finals where in relief of a struggling Daichi, he would give up 5 runs in just 2 innings, including one of the many HRs that were hit that day.  And thanks to a gassed Iidzuka, Okishou scored 9 runs in the 7th and 8th innings for an unbelievable comeback to take the title and make Souseikan indebted to them (as they would be the beneficiaries of the Meiji Jingu bid that Okishou won).

Looking at the opponents, it would appear that they faced a tough schedule.  Kounan, Mawashi, Ginowan and Misato Kougyou are generally stronger teams in the prefecture. So for all to be blanked (in regulation) may be impressive.  Their schedule actually appeared to get easier in the super-regionals, as the only main opponents were right off the bat in Nichinan Gakuen and then the rematch against Misato Kougyou.

Even at Meiji Jingu their schedule was not necessarily as robust.  Kanto Dai-ichi did win Tokyo, but one could argue that their schedule wasn't as strong.  Komadai Tomakomai will be back at Koushien, but they definitely aren't the same team of almost a decade ago.  Iwakuni's loss wasn't as bad as the score indicated, but they were under pressure the entire game.  And then finally if not for the opposing ace flat-lining they would have been completetly outmatched.

Still, they did (with the exception of one game) what teams need to do in these tournaments - win.

Daichi did pitch at Natsu Koushien (go to 1:15 in the video, he wears #12).  His delivery is rather strange, as he seems to throw three-quarters, but the delivery is abbreviated when there are runners on base and he appears to be low to the ground when delivering.  He hit 137 in the video, but given the changes in velocity, he may be more in line with the low-mid 130s, with perhaps a cutter in the high 120s and a slider in the mid 110s.  The location isn't quite there though, but it would appear if he misses, he misses low and that's a good thing.  The delivery in the fall looks more smooth.

There is less information on his relievers, Kounosuke for the brief time he was on the mound so far as I can tell threw in the mid-upper 130s.  Kubo, who wears #4 and also plays the outfield as well runs in the upper 130s with a supposed slider/curve/change combination.  That's rather impressive from your starting RF.

Offensively, leadoff batter Akamine Ken (赤嶺 謙) sets the table for the Okishou offense, getting on base at a major clip batting 8 for 16 during the Meiji Jingu tournament.  The rest of the Okishou batters ran hot and cold throughout the games.  For instance C Irabu Shouta (伊良部 渉太) went 0-fer in games against Kanto Dai-ichi and Iwakuni, but was 3-5 with 3 walks in his other 2 games.  Of course the 3-4 hitters of Nishihira Daiki (西平 大樹) and Anzato Ken (安里 健) are there for a reason, but they appear to be inconsistent as well at the plate.

Okishou has shown they can get deep into a tournament, but they have yet to show that they can go further at Koushien.  Unless they get a hell draw, I think a quarterfinal appearance can be penciled in, but after that will be up to the mental strength of the team.

Next up, cross island rival and Kyushu runner-up Misato Kougyou!

No comments: