Thursday, January 21, 2016

Previewing the projected field - Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)

Shuugakukan gets their second Senbatsu appearance in spectacular fashion by winning the super-regionals. Now, they had some hiccups, starting with a struggle against Kaishin in the prefectural quarterfinals, then having to come back against Kyushu Gakuin in the finals. But after the first game of the super-regionals where they had to come back late against Meihou, they breezed their way to the title. Despite that they were ousted in their first game of the Meiji Jingu tournament, losing 4-2 to Touhou.

Now, what has helped this team make such a run?

Perhaps it's pitching because while ace Arimura Taisei (有村 大誠) seems to be a solid ace - high 130s fastball along with a slider and curve, he actually was used less in the last couple of games, instead turning the ball over to 2B Horie Kouhei (堀江 航平) who actually was slated to be the ace until an injury prevented him from doing so, though it seems to not prevent him from pitching altogether. Weird bit is that he can still throw in the mid 130s with a slider in the 120s and a curve/changeup combo in the 110s. Even weirder, his numbers were better than Arimura's in the games where they pitched together. Also used, but not as effective were Nakai Yuusuke (中井 雄亮), who appears to be the left-handed version of Horie but worse, and to a lesser extent Taura Fumimaru (田浦 文丸) and Kawabata Kento (川端 健斗) who didn't give up a run in their stints in the super-regionals. It's weird unless Horie is coming back from injury and is finally back up to speed, which would mean they could be getting better at the position at the right time.

Offensively, there are several players who can appear to go off in a given game. They include 1B Kimoto Ryuuga (木本 凌雅), C Kuki Ryuuhei (九鬼 隆平) and especially LF Amamoto Kousuke (天本 昂佑). They aren't necessarily starved for offense per se, though 2 runs against Touhou isn't very good.

So it looks like the team should be able to hold its own against weaker competition, but may struggle once they run into established Koushien powerhouses. Barring a bad draw, expect them to finish in the middle somewhere.

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