Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reviewing the field - Hokushinetsu runner-up Matsushou Gakuen

It's been a while since Matsushou Gakuen made it back to Koushien, but they've been generally one of the better teams in Nagano. Now they make their first trip back to Senbatsu in 24 years.

It wasn't without some issues though as they had lost to Matsumoto Dai-ichi in the final round of the Chuushin regionals. But, they came back in the prefecturals and defeated both Ueda Nishi and Nagano Nichidai back-to-back to claim the prefectural title. Following that, it was games against Hokuetsu, Kanazawa and Chuuetsu to reach the title game (FYI, Hokuetsu and Chuuetsu are high tier 3 schools in Niigata, and Kanazawa we know from their multiple Koushien appearances). Of course, they ran into Tsuruga Kehi then and got shutout to the tune of 3 hits.

The pitching staff, led by ace Onda Yuuya (恩田 佑哉), struggled at times with their competition. His K/IP rate was less than 1, and while his WHIP was barely over 1 at 1.06 about a third of it was attributable to walks, which against stiffer competition may only get worse. Submariner #10 Tokuda Ryousuke (徳田 涼介), and #11 Haga Kazuya (羽賀 和也) are also on the roster, but they posted worse numbers and probably can't be counted upon.

Offensively, the team batted over 0.300, with 5 players individually over said mark. Of note are CF Momose Masaya (百瀬 雅也), who hit 0.488 and stole 14 bases, 1B Arakura Kenta (新倉 健太) who hit 4 doubled and drive in 14 of the team's 64 runs, as well as reserves Koshimizu Masamichi (輿水 将道) and Miyajima Shunpei (宮嶋 隼平) who may see time on the field or even be a starter.

Still, the team didn't cruise through a super-regional that is generally considered weaker than others, and the pitching appears average compared to participants in the past. Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou will not be an easy game to start, and it's possible they could be a one-and-done team when all is said and done.

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