Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Previewing the projected field - Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)

Formerly known as just Fukui, they were basically the 3rd wheel to Tsuruga Kehi and Fukui Shougyou. But for now anyways they have leapfrogged Fukui Shougyou on the ladder, and might make it a clean sweep for the prefecture for the Hokushinetsu bids. I say might because this may be a rare case wherein the committee might overlook a runner-up in favor of a semi-finalist. What stops it is that the case for the other possible candidate probably isn't strong enough to overrule that.

Now, I've made a case of a Tier 3 school hitting their heads against the top teams in a prefecture. But Fukui Koudai Fukui is a solid Tier 2 school and yet here are their losses going back:
  • 2015 Fall - Super-Regional Championship - lost Tsuruga Kehi 1-6
  • 2015 Fall - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 0-8
  • 2015 Summer - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 3-4x (10 inn)
  • (2015 Spring - Super-Regional Opening Round - lost Niigata Kenou Kougyou 4-6)
  • (2015 Spring - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 3-7)
  • 2014 Fall - Super Regional Opening Round - lost Kanazawa 1-2x
  • 2014 Summer - Prefectural Final - lost Tsuruga Kehi 2-10
So in the last 2 years, of their 7 losses, 5 were at the hands of Tsuruga Kehi. The ()'s in the spring are there because the spring tournaments in general have no bearing on either Koushien tournament outside of perhaps seeding. In fact, if you go back over the past decade (thanks Asahi), of their 32 losses, 11 were at the hands of Tsuruga Kehi - 8 in a finals and 2 in the semifinals. That's butting your head against the ceiling if there was one.

This year, as you can see, they lost to them twice, and in pretty dominating fashion. And they regularly had close games against schools not normally considered powerhouses.

The weird bit is that ace Tanaka Igarashi (田中 嵐士) did not pitch against Tsuruga Kehi in either case, which might account for the blowout losses. But the question is why - unless Fukui Koudai Fukui believed that losing either game didn't matter - the prefectural title because they had already made the super-regionals and the difference between facing a champion and runner-up was inconsequential, and the super-regionals because they figured the semifinalists didn't have a strong enough resume. The former I can believe, but you would have to be pretty dead sure that the resume of the semifinalists below you wasn't overly convincing and that you were guaranteed a spot to sit him.

Anyways, it's not like Tanaka is completely useless (he does appear to strike out quite a few hitters), and none of the other relievers - Ujiie Takumi (氏家 拓海), #18 Ishiguro Naoki (石黒 直哉), Fukuda Shouto (福田 翔人), Suburu Ryouma (巽 竜馬) seem to be all that useful. Not only did they struggle against Tsuruga Kehi, but also when they relieved Tanaka early against Nagano Shougyou.

Offense-wise, the 3 players who seem to be the most consistent are 2B Tanimoto Kanmasa(?) (谷本 甲仁), 3B Kitamura Shintarou (北村 進太郎) and 1B Tsukamoto Daiki (塚本 大貴).

Despite the fact that they didn't use their ace, the losses to Tsuruga Kehi and the close games against other non top-tier schools with their ace means that they're probably not in contention for the senbatsu title.

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