Saturday, July 16, 2016

Natsu Koushien Qualifying - Blitzkrieg through the country (Tohoku)

A majority of the prefectures kicked off play this last weekend. There's a lot to go through, so we're going to blitz through all of them to let you know where the major players are, or in some cases aren't. Unless otherwise stated by the prefecture themselves, I will refer to quadrants by number going top-down from left to right (Upper left = 1, lower left = 2, etc.)

Aomori - Best 8
Here were our matchups for the round of 16:
  • Touoku Gijyuku vs. Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei
  • Hirosaki Higashi vs. Hirosaki Jitsugyou
  • Aomori Shougyou vs. Kashiwagi Nougyou
  • Noheji Nishi vs. ① Hachinohe Nishi
  • ② Hirosaki Gakuen Seiai vs. Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ni
  • Tanabu vs. Hirosaki Kougyou
  • ⑤ Oominato vs. Aomori Yamada
  • Misawa vs. ③ Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi
As you can see, there were only 4 seeded teams left. And not only that, but the non-seeded powerhouse teams are still alive (Kousei, Aomori Yamada). All the other seeded teams that lost could have been considered fakes so perhaps we're where we should be.

And in the Round of 16, Kousei, Hachinohe Nishi, Seiai, and Hirosaki Higashi had mercy rule wins. Hirosaki Kougyou was in a tight match against Tanabu until they scored 4 in the 8th. Aomori Yamada's rise back to prominence seems to have stalled. Holding a 2-0 lead to Oominato, they give up 2 in the 8th and the game winning run in the 9th. Down they go 3-2. Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi did not look all that great versus Misawa, having to rally from an early 2-0 deficit to win 4-2. And finally Aomori Shougyou eked out a 3-2 win over Kashiwagi Nougyou.

At this point, we're looking at a Kousei vs. Hachinohe Nishi and Seiai vs. (Oominato/Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi winner) - the only "outsider" being Hachinohe Nishi.

Iwate - 2nd round (in progress)
Hanamaki Higashi is gone! First game up, playing Morioka Kougyou (whose best result in recent times was the 4th round), they had a very tentative 1-run lead until the 8th where with 2 down, runners on 2nd and 3rd, Morioka Kougyou's bottom of the order delivered with #6 Saitou and #7 Kudou got back-to-back hits, giving them a 2-1 lead. The nail in the coffin was ace Hirasawa giving up a oshidashi walk to make it 3-1.
  • "A" Block - Ichinoseki Gakuin, Kamaishi Shoukou
  • "B" Block - Senmaya, Ichinoseki Kougyou
  • "C" Block - Moriokadai Fuzoku, Takata
  • "D" Block - Hanamaki Minami, Hanasaki Higashi
As you can see, most of the seeded teams have survived. But with Hanamaki Higashi's loss, Senshuudai Kitami who resides in "D" Block, should be able to get to the semifinals where Moriokadai Fuzoku should be waiting. And for either of them, if the worst they have to face is Ichinoseki Gakuin, that semifinal might really be the final.

Akita - 1st round (in progress)
Akita breaks their prefecturals into blocks by stadium, so when you draw into a quadrant, at least you know you're going to the same place until the semifinals.
  • Komachi Block - ① Noshiro, ⑧ Oodate Kokusai
  • Noshiro Block - ④ Oomagari Kougyou, ⑤ Oodate Houmei
  • Yokote Block - ③ Akita Chuo, ⑥ Yokote
  • Yabase Block - ② Meiou, ⑦ Noshiro Shouyou
None of the seeded teams have played yet, but the right side looks pretty hard with Meiou and Noshiro Shouyou having to battle out of Yabase block. Noshiro may be the top seed, but unseeded Akita Shougyou lurks in their block. And for the seeded teams in Noshiro and Yokote block, the opportunity is there to at least reach the semifinals, and then you just go all out.

Yamagata - Round of 16
So, who's left?
  • "A" Block
    • ① Sakata Minami vs. Tsuruoka Kougyou
    • Yamamoto Gakuen vs. Nichidai Yamagata 
  • "B" Block
    • ⑥ Shinjyou Kita vs. Sakata Higashi
    • Tsuruoka Tousen vs. ④ Tsuruoka Higashi
  • "C" Block
    • ② Toukaidai Yamagata vs. Tsuruoka Minami
    • Yamagata Shougyou vs. Yonezawa Chuo
  • "D" Block
    • ③ Kunori Gakuen vs. Yamagata Jyouhoku
    • Haguro vs. ⑤ Yamagata Chuo
Whoo hoo! Haguro is still alive! Though it's prolly short-lived now as Yamagata Chuo awaits and they really haven't looked all that impressive.

"A" block went as expected, with Sakata Minami and Nichidai Yamagata now on a collision course. Tsuruoka Higashi should win "B" block without issue, Toukaidai Yamagata looks at least like a solid team in "C" Block, and finally back to "D" block, Kunori Gakuen might actually have a chance to reach the semifinals with all the major players elsewhere - though it's still too early to tell.

Miyagi - 2nd round (in progress)

  • Quadrant 1 - Touryou, Tomiya
  • Quadrant 2 - Sendai Shougyou, Shibata
  • Quadrant 3 - Sendai Ikuei, Sendai Dai-san
  • Quadrant 4 - Tohoku Gakuin Tsutsujigaoka, Tohoku
Miyagi, despite being perhaps more metropolitan than the other Tohoku regions, have not enjoyed an more success in recent years, save for Sendai Ikuei. They and Tohoku inhabit the right side of the bracket and could be expected for a semifinal matchup.

The left side is completely up for grabs, with perhaps Touryou and Shibata penciled in for the other semifinal, though Rifu lurks in Quadrant 1. Other than that, there's not much else to say.

Fukushima - Does it matter?
Has Seikou Gakuin lost? Nope? Oh, they're playing Iwaki Sougou (one of the only above average teams in prefecture) next? I see. Wake me up when something happens to them.

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