Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Natsu Koushien Qualifying - Blitzkrieg through the country (Hokushinetsu)

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.)

Fukui - Round of 16 (in progress)
If you were to look at the Fukui page, it would say the 2nd round, but it is the round of 16 because Fukui sadly has 30 schools.
  • "A" Zone - Fukui Koudai Fukui
  • "B" Zone - Mikata
  • "C" Zone - Keishin
  • "D" Zone - Tsuruga Kehi
Tsuruga Kehi, Fukui's representative the last 2 years, was upset yesterday by Sakai. Tying the game at 2 after 7, the game went to enchousen and continued to the 15th (and final) inning. And at that moment, Sakai came through with 2 runs to shock the champions.

This opens the door for Fukui Koudai Fukui and unseeded Fukui Shougyou. But if Fukui Shougyou wins their game in a couple days' time, these 2 schools will square off, thinning the powerhouses even more and given them some hope. Though it will also give the winner a clearer path to the title.

Ishikawa - 2nd round (in progress)
Ishikawa has one of the worst overall winning percentages (0.380), but since 2000, teams from Ishikawa have at least won 1 game in all but 4 years - which isn't bad for a more rural prefecture.
  • "A" Zone - Seiryou, Komatsu Meisei
  • "B" Zone - Komatsu Nishi, Hokuriku Gakuin
  • "C" Zone - Yuugakukan, Kanazawa
  • "D" Zone - Kenritsu Kougyou, Kanazawa Shougyou
The seeded teams that have played so far have advanced with no issue. And the team I root for now because Seiryou got into their heads 2 years ago, Komatsu Ootani, has to play Komatsu Nishi today.

Nagano - Best 8
Nagano has had some success, winning at least 1 game in half of their appearances in the 2000's, but have been unable to get past the 3rd round. As for the qualifying, they have quickly gone from a field of 84 to the best 8, though perhaps that's more of the fact that they have not had the rainouts other prefectures have had:
  • Komoro Shougyou vs. Nagano Nishi
  • ⑤ Saku Chousei vs. Souzou Gakuen
  • ③ Ueda Nishi vs. Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri
  • ⑦ Matsumoto Fukashi vs. ② Matsushou Gakuen
That is seemingly a lot of carnage out there. Komoro Shougyou upset ① Matsumoto Dai-ichi right off the bat, so there they went. Nagano Nishi sent ⑧ Okaya Minami home in the 3rd round. ④ Nagano Nichidai did not look impressive at all, losing 8-2 to Souzou Gakuen. And it's not all surprising that Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri has upset an average school in ⑥ Nagano Shougyou.

Toyama - 2nd round (in progress)
Toyama has been a pleasant surprise, getting to the 3rd round 3 of the last 5 years and from schools not necessarily powerhouses in the prefecutre (Shin-Minato & Toyama Dai-ichi). This after recording a win in just 5 of their last 15 years.
  • "A" Block - ① Takaoka Shougyou, ⑤ Toyama Shougyou
  • "B" Block - ① Toyama, ⑤ Nanto Fukuno
  • "C" Block - ① Toyama Dai-ichi, ⑤ Tonami Kougyou
  • "D" Block - ① Namerikawa, ⑤ Toyama Kokusaidai Fuzoku
All 8 seeded teams were in play yesterday, with Toyama being the only casualty, losing 3-2 to Uodzu. They seemingly looked out of place as a top seed, and they got exposed in the 2nd round. Most teams are happy that both Takaoka Shougyou and Toyama Shougyou are in the same block as they will beat each other up and open things up for everyone else.

Niigata - Best 8
Niigata is surprisingly on schedule, given that they're normally subject to rainouts. Basically, 2 schools have had the only success out of the prefecture - Nihon Bunri (darn you Chuukyoudai Chuukyou) and Niigata Meikun. It doesn't mean that they're guaranteed to have success when they get there, but at least you know they have a chance.
  • ① Niigata Meikun vs. ⑨~⑯ Nagaoka Shougyou
  • ⑨~⑯ Maki vs. ④ Nagaoka Kougyou
  • ③ Nagaoka Oote vs. ⑤~⑧ Kamo Gyousei
  • ⑤~⑧ Teikyou Nagaoka vs. ⑨~⑯ Chuuetsu
All seeded teams, though as you can see, they go 16 deep. Missing is Nihon Bunri, who already was unseeded but did take Nagaoka Oote the distance before giving up the winning run in the bottom of the 8th, falling 2-1. Niigata Meikun could be considered the prohibitive favorite now, and the scores indicate that they're gaining steam. Chuuetsu is trying to make a repeat bid, and having defeated ② Hokuetsu, it might be possible, but a game Teikyou Nagaoka currently stands in their way. Don't count out the aforementioned Nagaoka Oote either, they're a solid Tier 3 school who may gain momentum defeating Nihon Bunri (because exercising demons is a thing).

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