The draw, and rosters are out! And with no group of death, the strong should be able to get through the levels with no problem... right?
So, let's go through the games. One thing to keep in mind is that there will be many games where the grades are close together, but are all low. It won't mean that the games are low-scoring per se, but rather that the games could be close.
Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui) C-/D+ vs Chiben Gakuen (Nara) C/C-
With grades as low as these are, it's a crap shoot who gets the advantage here. Murakami for Chiben Gakuen is probably better than his counterpart Tanaka and the offense is slightly better for Chiben Gakuen as well, so perhaps the scales tip slightly in their favor.
Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki) B-/C+ vs. Kagoshima Jitsugyou C-/C
Jyousou Gakuin will certainly have the advantage on the mound as ace Suzuki should take the hill to give his team a good start. He will probably give Kajitsu their toughest test yet. And ace Maruyama doesn't get to ease into Koushien. Jyousou should have the advantage in the matinee game.
Kiryuu Dai-ichi (Gunma) C/C vs. Shiga Gakuen (Shiga) B-/B
Normally you'd think that Kiryuu Dai-ichi would be the favorite based upon brand name, but Shiga Gakuen has proven their mettle during the aki taikai. Kiryuu Dai-ichi is still untested, so it's possible that their grades are slightly understated, especially with respect to ace Uchiike. Shiga Gakuen's offense though should prove a good test.
Kamaishi (Iwate) D/D- vs. Shoudoshima (Kagawa) C/D-
Um... flip a coin? Both offenses struggle, the pitching staffs are the furthest from spectacular. Shoudoshima did defeat Takamatsu Shougyou, so there's that, but Kamaishi has less voids in their lineup.
Meitoku Gijyku (Kochi) C-/C- vs. Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto) C-/C
Both schools would be normally considered good teams, but this year the schools are rather untested. Despite the same grades on the pitching side, Heian has a higher K rate, but a higher BB rate as well and offensively at least Heian has gaudy numbers that you would expect to see against weaker competition. Give Ryuukokudai Heian the edge as ace Nakano will be putting his defense under pressure the entire game.
Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Aomori) D+/C vs. Kaisei (Shimane) C-/D+
Kousei gets a rare favorable draw facing Shimane's Kaisei. Ace Sakurai can slowly work himself into play at Koushien against the weak Kaisei offense, and the bats should have a shot to get themselves warmed up as well.
Akashi Shougyou (Hyogo) C/C vs. Nichinan Gakuen (Miyazaki) C/C-
This matchup is pretty equal all things considered. The slight mismatch on offense favoring Akashi Shougyou is that you have a tradeoff between getting basehits (Akashi Shougyou) versus getting walks and XBH (Nichinan Gakuen), and even that could be considered a push. Mabye with a deeper bench that Hazama-kantoku can use they have a better shot, but really you can go 50-50.
Touhou (Aichi) B-/C- vs. Kanto Dai-ichi (Tokyo) C/B-
Is is another matchup of strengths and weaknesses. Touhou has good pitching, but faces a good offense. Kanto Dai-ichi's pitching isn't stellar, but neither is Touhou's offense.
If ace Fujishima can keep Kanto Dai-ichi's batters off-balance, they stand a good chance. The same goes if his offense can be patient enough at times to draw walks. If not, then Kanto Dai-ichi stands a better chance. Just because pitching can keep you in games, edge goes to Touhou, but not by a whole lot.
Sapporo Dai-ichi (Hokkaido) C-/D+ vs. Kisaradzu Sougou (Chiba) B+/C
Despite this being between 2 super-regional champions, this is a pretty bad mismatch. While the numbers at face value seem similar, Kisaradzu Sougou had by far the tougher schedule. Sapporo Dai-ichi should struggle to score runs, allowing Kisaradzu Sougou to take any extra time to crack ace Kamide.
Tosa (Kochi) D+/D- vs. Osaka Touin (Osaka) B-/A-
Sadly, that mismatch will be overshadowed by this one. Tosa shouldn't stand much of a chance here in this one against Osaka Touin unless they can somehow draw walks and turn that into runs. Other than that, might as well fill that line in now.
Shiritsu Wakayama (Wakayama) C-/C- vs. Nanyou Kougyou (Yamaguchi) C-/C
Both pitching staffs are underwhelming making this a volatile matchup. Shiritsu Wakayama has proven to put up good numbers against lesser competition, so that might favor them, but Nanyou Kougyou for some reason can make runs appear from almost nothing. Like I said before though, I need Nanyou Kougyou to prove they can do that, so for now Shiritsu Wakayama has the edge, if only slight.
Shuugakukan (Kumamoto) B/B vs. Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) B/C
This matchup is probably the closest you'll get to a quality matchup early. The pitching staffs are both solid, though perhaps the edge goes to Hanasaki Tokuharu as Takahashi shouldn't have stamina issues this early. Offensively, both teams have holes, but Shuugakukan's offense - at least in getting baserunners, was solid throughout while Hanasaki Tokuharu's offense was a little more inconsistent.
I think it will hinge on when Kajisha-kantoku of Shuugakukan sends in ace Arimura. As mentioned in the previews, while Arimura has the majority of the innings, he is more of a control pitcher, while the relief starters are more K artists (at least it seems so). If Arimura can hold his own, then Shuugakukan probably has the edge. If not, well the result's fairly obvious.
Toukaidai Koufu (Yamanashi) C/C+ vs. Soushi Gakuen (Okayama) B/C
This matchup features a pair of teams that are fairly unexposed. Both Toukaidai Koufu and Soushi Gakuen held the line well up until they had their first real test. Toukaidai Koufu's pitching in terms of giving up runs was stellar, even in their loss to Kisaradzu Sougou. If that can hold against Soushi Gakuen, their C grade should be bumped up. But Kikuchi is much the contact pitcher, so it will be interesting to see how he holds up. Soushi Gakuen's offense is much more solid down the lineup than Toukaidai Koufu, and not facing either giving up an inning or killing a rally is a big plus. I would give Soushi Gakuen the edge, but Toukaidai Koufu has upside.
Takamatsu Shougyou (Kagawa) B+/B+ vs. Inabe Sougou Gakuen (Mie) C-/D+
The Meiji Jingu champions finally take the field near the end of the 1st round, and get about one of the softest matchups they can get. Inabe Sougou Gakuen may be better off if reliever Watanabe Keigo gets the start, because it feels like with ace Yamauchi they'd be hanging on by the shortest of threads. Pair that against an offense that kept up with both Osaka Touin and Tsuruga Kehi? It's a recipe for disaster.
Kaisei (Nagasaki) C/C+ vs. Nagata (Hyogo) B-/D
Really, this will be a battle of offenses. Can Nagata, generate any offense to give their ace a chance? For Kaisei, can their ridiculous team BA translate at all against arguably one of the better pitchers in the tournament? Normally I'd give the team with the staff ace the edge, but Nagata's offense is so bad that I can't tip them with any confidence.
Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) B/B+ vs. Aomori Yamada (Aomori) D/C-
Tsuruga Kehi shouldn't be troubled by Aomori Yamada, but of bigger concern for them is that this slot means that ace Yamazaki will get no rest. Do not be surprised if Nishimoto actually gets the start here to prevent Yamazaki from getting early use because their 2 days off between games will be the most they get barring rainouts. It's either that or they start their ace this game then rest against the winner of the Kaisei/Nagata game. Either way, they should be favored regardless in both matchups.