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.)
Ehime - 1st round (in progress)
Ehime just started on the 13th with just 60 schools:
- #1 Block - Kawanoe
- #2 Block - Imabari Nishi
- #3 Block - Saibi
- #4 Block - Nitta
The main stars are back, mainly Imabari Nishi and Saibi, who could face each other in the finals. The pair have been to 10 of the last 15 Natsu Koushien tournaments though the last big run was back in 2007. Kawanoe is there as a Tier 3 school, and Nitta seems to be on the precipice of breaking back into the 高校野球 scene.
As for lurkers, Saijyou drew into #1 Block, and Uwajima Higashi into #4 block. They both avoid the main players for as long as they possibly can, but they will have to prove their mettle.
Kochi - Begins today
29 schools. Kochi just has 29 schools. No wonder then that Meitoku Gijyuku has been the representative 11 times since 2000. Kochi has been the representative 4 times and Kochi Shougyou once.
- "A" Zone - Meitoku Gijyuku
- "B" Zone - Kochi Shougyou
- "C" Zone - Kochi
- "D" Zone - Tosa
Huh, so all 3 representatives are seeded teams, and the 4th is one who has become increasingly competitive in prefecture, culminating in their Haru Koushien bid earlier this year.
Kagawa - 2nd round (in progress)
Kagawa has been one of the poorest performing teams at Koushien, managing just 4 wins over the last 15 years. 7 schools have taken up the banner for the prefecure (Sangawa, Marugame, Kagawa Nishi, Eimei, Jinsei Gakuen, Marugame Jyousai), and all but Sakaide Shougyou and Marugame Jyousai have gone at least once.
- "A" Block - Ootemae Takamatsu
- "B" Block - Takamatsu Shougyou
- "C" Block -
- "D" Block - Shoudoshima
Shido is already out, Shoudoshima won 1-0 against Fujii on 5 hits (blech). All of the former participants are not seeded teams, yet all of them have advanced except for Sangawa who lost to Ootemae Takamatsu.
Tokushima - 1st round (in progress)
31 schools in Tokushima. The prefecture has been able to make sustained runs in a given year, with teams reaching the Best 8 three times since 2000. The prefecure has been dominated lately by Naruto (5 times, last 4 consecutive), Tokushima Shougyou and Naruto Kougyou (4).
- "A" Zone - Naruto
- "B" Zone - Tomioka Nishi
- "C" Zone - Jyounan
- "D" Zone - Seikou Gakuen
A lot of new names here, though Naruto sits once again as a favorite to go for the 5th straight year.
As for other schools:
- Ikeda, who made their name under kantoku Tatsu Fumiya, is also on the precipice of a revival like Nitta, but is in Naruto's zone.
- Komatsushima, who had elevated themselves closer to Tier 2 status lies in B Zone and could make a deep bid.
- Tokushima Shougyou faces Jyounan right off the bat.
- Naruto Kougyou, despite representing Tokushima at Natsu Koushien in 2011, suffered from declining attendance and was merged the very next year with Naruto Dai-ichi into Naruto Uzushio, who also inhabits "C" Zone with Tokushima Shougyou.