Saturday, July 9, 2016

Natsu Koushien Qualifying - Tohoku (Updated)/Kanto/Hokushinetsu

So three more prefectures in Tohoku started up yesterday, so let's get caught up on the region before moving on.

Aomori - 2nd round in progress
Last year's representative, Misawa Shougyou, is not a seeded team but will play one in #4 Goshogawara Shougyou after mercy ruling Ooma 8-1 in 7 innings.

Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (hereafter referred to as Kousei), put up a decent performance, 2-hitting Sanbongi Nougyou 6-0. They will face the winner of today's Rokunohe-Aomori matchup.

Iwate - Opening round in progress
Yesterday and today are the opening round games, with 8 teams working their way into the rest of the bracket with everyone else (i.e. they had 68 teams, so those 8 wound up with the short end of the stick).

As for the brackets themselves, they label them much like the blocks in Hokkaido, but it's still a standard bracket. Also, there are no tiered seeds, just 8 seeded teams. So keep that in mind as I talk about the bracket. 

Ichinoseki Gakuin gets just about every break possible, drawing into an "A" and "B" Block that is devoid of any of the powerhouses. All signs point to them reaching the final, but I'm sure they'll find a way to trip and fall along the way.

Moriokadai Fuzoku and Hanamaki Higashi as seeded teams wound up in "C" and "D" Blocks, setting up a semifinal that might be the final. Though Senshuudai Kitami could throw a wrench in things for Hanamaki Higashi in the round of 16.

Yamagata - 1st round in progress
The Yamagata taikai started with just one game - but oddly it was an unseeded Nichidai Yamagata who wound up playing, and annihilating Yonezawa Shougyou 23-0. They could easily take the place of #7/8 seed Yamagata Minami in the 2nd round, setting them on a collision course with #1 seed Sakata Minami in the quarterfinals. The winner of that could easily face last year's champion, #4 seed Tsuruoka Higashi.

On the other half, we have #2 seed Toukaidai Yamagata, and #5 seed Yamagata Chuo. Kunori Gakuen, who has been a consistent Tier 3 school, winds up with the #3 seed and a possible matchup with the aforementioned Yamagata Chuo (don't ask me why they didn't do the traditional 1v8, 2v7, etc. I have no idea).

Fukushima - 1st round in progress
Doesn't even matter right now. I'll update this when Seikou Gakuin either loses (at all) or wins the title.

Nishi Tokyo - 2nd round in progress
In both Tokyo regions, the higher seeded teams technically get not one, but two byes as there are an uneven number of teams and some have to play an "extra" game. So it'll be a couple of days until we see the top teams take the field.

Even with those double byes, the top teams still have to win 6 games to take the title. Yet for a team I am not exactly fond of, they found themselves with an easy draw. Yep, Nichidai-san, despite being a 3rd tier seed (they do tiers instead of numbers) gets a dream run through their quadrant. This while at the upper part of that half, top seed Toukaidai Sugao has Nichidai Tsurugaoka and Kokugakuin Kugayama in their quadrant. And on the other side, 3rd tier seed Souka has Nichidai Sakuragaoka and Waseda Gakuin. And while Hachiouji and Toritsu Hino have not been able to break through, lurking in their bracket is Kiyomiya, er... I mean Waseda Jitsugyou.

Ugh, I'm not happy with that draw.

Higashi Tokyo - 2nd round in progress
Heh. Who are the top 2 seeds in Higashi Tokyo? Kanto Dai-ichi and Nishogakushadai Fuzoku. Which means if they both win out, we get yet another re-match.

Before I continue, here's some bizarre seeding for you. We have a #1, #2 and #3 seeds, but after that there's the #4-6 seeds as one group and #7-9 seeds as another.

So, what about the other teams? Shuutoku is the 7-9 seed in Kanto Dai-ichi's quadrant, but no other visible landmines seem present save for maybe Waseda.

In the other quadrant on their half sits Teikyou as the #4-6 seed. Sure, they're above average, but have had no real success after the 13-12 loss to Chiben Wakayama back in 2006. They're approaching has-been name brand status. What will be interesting to me in that quadrant is #7-9 seed Nihon Wellness. They were already rising through the ranks, but now has hired Nakahara Hidetaka (中原英孝) as their kantoku. Before taking the job at Nihon Wellness, he was the kantoku over at Matsushou Gakuen and Nagano Nichidai. Yes it's Nagano, and it's not a strong prefecture - but they're still getting a manager of a good school.

On the other side where Nishogakushadai Fuzoku resides, they don't have much opposition either in their quadrant so they should be expected to reach the semifinals with ease. Perhaps even the finals as the two seeded teams in the opposing quadrant are Toua Gakuen and Iwakura with Yukigaya and Nichidai Buzan possibly providing the only resistance.

Niigata - Opening round underway
Niigata's first game was yesterday as Niigata Nishi beat Hamochi 8-1 in 7 innings at their main Hard-off Eco Stadium.

Niigata goes perhaps a bit far, giving out seeds down to the 9-16 seeds. And yet, Nihon Bunri isn't even included in the top 16! And yet, they managed to draw into a quadrant that didn't include Niigata Meikun, Hokuetsu, Chuuetsu, or Jyouetsu. The only notable team is Murakami Sakuragaoka, who is also an unseeded team. The seeded teams are relative unknowns - Nagaoka Oote and Kamo Gyousei, though they did face each other in the spring tournament quarterfinals (Nagaoka Oote won 13-3).

As for those other teams mentioned, Niigata Meikun holds the top seed and may have to face Jyouetsu before the quarterfinals. Hokuetsu and Chuuetsu wound up in the same quadrant of the bracket, so all other teams not there can breath a bit of a sigh of relief.

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