Monday, December 17, 2012

Handicapping the field (Part 3)

This will highlight the last part of my projected field in the Chuugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu regions.  Again this is merely a projection and not the official list:

関西 - Kanzei (Chuugoku, Okayama, Okayama-shi) - 12th appearance, 3rd consecutive - B+
Kanzei two summers ago went all the way to the semifinals.  They spent a year rebuilding, but are back at Koushien for Senbatsu.

Interestingly, they got stronger as they went deeper into the Fall taikais.  In their 4 prefectural games, they won by a combined 14-9.  They then went on a 50-9 run in 6 games (including wins over both Jyosuikan and Kouryou) before losing 12-4 to Sendai Ikuei n the Meiji Jingu final.

Leading the way for Kanzei is ace Koyama Yuuto (児山 祐人), though I can't find any real information on him.  In fact, there is little information about Kanzei out there, despite being the fall runner-up.

If there is a weakness for Kanzei, it appears they live on the big inning.  In fact, if not for a 5-run 7th, they would have lost to Kouryou in the final.  They should be considered as one of the favorites, but if they win it will in all likelihood be a team effort.

広陵 - Kouryou (Chuugoku, Hiroshima, Hiroshima-shi) - 23rd appearance, 1st in 3 years - C+
Kouryou finds themselves at Koushien after several years off.  They finish 2nd overall, despite finishing 3rd in the prefectural taikai to Soutoku and Jyosuikan.

But the body of work is rather unimpressive - though it's not really their fault.  They only had the "quality loss" to Jyosuikan in the prefecturals, and wound up playing Soutoku and 2 Yamaguchi-ken schools in the Super-Regionals.  So despite finishing 2nd overall, the impression is that they won't advance far at Senbatsu.

Shimoishi Ryouta (下石 涼太) is their ace, with a low 140 fastball, and a change in the low 120s.  Oota Hajime (太田 創) is the other pitcher they use though he's their SS as well.  He throws in the high 130s with a curve, slider and fork.

岩国商 - Iwakuni Shougyou (Chuugoku, Yamaguchi, Iwakuni-shi) - 1st appearance - C+
Well, when you send 4 teams into the Super-Regional as the home team you hope one of them will advance to Senbatsu - especially since this year Chuugoku sends 3 teams.

Yamaguchi champion Iwakuni Shougyou becomes that team.  Once again though, their resume is rather weak.  They defeated Iwakuni and Hayatomo by a run apiece in the semis and finals, only to see Hayatomo lose 10-0 to Iwakuni then see them lose to Kanzei 11-1.  In other worse, those wins cannot be considered quality wins.

Futhermore, in the Super Regionals they played unknown Tamashima Shougyou (Okayama) and the other Yamaguchi school, Ube Kougyou before being shutout by Kouryou in the semis 2-0.  It wasn't just a shutout, they were 3-hit and RF Yokota was responsible for 2 of those 3 hits.

Takahashi Yuuta (高橋 由弥) is the ace of the staff, carries a mid 130s fastball and an identified slider.

高知 - Kochi (Shikoku, Kochi, Kochi-shi) - 17th appearance, 2nd consecutive -C+
Kochi once again will go to Senbatsu by way of winning the Shikoku Super-Regional.  They pretty much steamrolled the competition right up until the Super-Regional semifinal.

There they had to rally twice to defeat Tokushima Shougyou 11-7,  then has to scramble after giving up a 3-run lead to defeat Naruto in the final 8-6.

Sakamoto Yuuta (坂本 優太) at Meiji Jingu appears to throw in the low-mid 130s with a slider, and a curve and change in the 110s.  He generally does not pitch the entire game though, passing the ball off to rookie Sakai Yuuya (酒井 祐弥) who already throws in the 140s with the same repertoire, or captain and 3B Wada Ren (和田 恋) who can throw in the low 140s teams may be more concerned with with his bat and not his arm.

Despite all that though, and the narrow loss to Urawa Gakuin, they still need to prove something considering the drought they've had since the turn of the century having gone just 2-8.

鳴門 - Naruto (Shikoku, Tokushima, Naruto-shi) - 8th appearance, 2nd consecutive - C
For finishing 2nd in the Shikoku taikai, Naruto getting a C grade seems rather harsh.  Yes, they scored at least 5 runs in each of their games, but they also gave up at least 3 runs in each of those games too.  There were several blowouts along the way, but at the same time if they have to continuously outscore their opponents and in doing so barely beat Saibi and lose to Naruto that this type of game is not sustainable in a single-elimination format.

Bandou Yuugo (板東 湧梧) is the de facto ace tasked with minimizing the damage done to their team.

In effect, this makes Naruto a poor man's Osaka Touin.  No pitching, and a worse offense.  And that is not a good combination at all.

済美 - Saibi (Shikoku, Ehime, Matsuyama-shi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 9 years - B-
Realistically, Saibi should have been in the final.  They led Naruto 4-1 with just 3 outs to go.  But ace Anraku Tomohiro (安楽 智大) just flat collapsed.

Another super-rookie, he's already passed the 150 barrier, throwing a slider, curve and cutter.  He generates over 1.3 K/inning.  Despite this though, he's still rough around the edges.

That 4-run 9th he gave up against Naruto was not the only time he's given up runs late.  Games throughout the fall taikai were closer than they needed to be (their 4 last games were all 1-run affairs).

He's still young, and there's time to grow.  But for now they're in the same level as Yamato Kouryou, and thus earns their B- ranking.

沖縄尚学 - Okinawa Shougaku (Kyushu, Okinawa, Naha-shi) - 5th appearance, 1st in 5 years - B
They're baaaaaaack....

The last time Okishou was at Koushien, they had a pitcher by the name of Higashihama.

And we all know how that went.

#12 Ura Jyun (宇良 淳) who hits low 140s, and apparent ace Higa Kenichirou (比嘉 健一朗) are the tandem used in almost all games for Okishou. Score-wise, they didn't overwhelm the opposition.  However, the tandem severely limited the opponent offenses perhaps so that the score was not indicative of the actual play.

Offensively, Chinen Yuuya (知念 佑哉) was one of the few who had success in the only game at Meiji Jingu, going 4-5.  From that one video alone, he appears to be aware of taking the ball the other way, can get on top of a fairly high pitch, and can still get around an inside pitch.  Mind you it was against Oogushi who is not a hard thrower at all, so it has to come with some skepticism.

Also, cleanup batter Shibahiki Yuuma (柴引 佑真) was 2-4 in that same game.

The loss to Hokushou at Meiji Jingu does put a damper on their run as does the loss to Ginowan in the prefectural final.  I think they can be introduced in the discussion for contenders, but not necessarily at the top of the list.

済々黌 - Seiseikou (Kyushu, Kumamoto, Kumamoto-shi) - 4th appearance, 1st in 55 years!! - C+
I rooted for Seiseikou.  I mean, they hadn't been to Koushien in 18 years, and now here they are going to back to back Koushiens (calendar-wise).

And they really didn't disappoint.  They beat Naruto, then had a respectable 6-2 loss to eventual Haru-Natsu champs Osaka Touin.

They did manage to keep the most important part of a returning staff.  Their ace Ootake Koutarou (大竹 耕太郎) returns to lead the team.  As noted this summer, he has a fastball in the low 130's, maybe a cutter in the high 120s, and a change in the high 110s.

In their 8 victories, he gave up a grand total of 5 runs including 2 shutouts against Miyazaki Nichidai and Shoushikan.  In addition, in the loss to Okinawa Shougaku Ootake flat collapsed in the 9th inning, yielding all 5 runs in the loss.

The only real blemish is the 6-0 shutout loss to Kumamoto Kougyou.  

Still though, their margin of error is rather low.  They are not a high-scoring team, and that will limit their prospects.  They'll beat the teams they should beat, and probably lose to the teams they should.  But like the Osaka Touin game, it will be competitive.

尚志館- Shoushikan (Kyushu, Kagoshima, Shibushi-shi) - 1st appearance - C-
Shoushikan makes their debut appearance at Koushien this year thanks to a semifinal appearance in the Kyushu Super-Regional.  This run was rather impressive for a team making their first appearance.

There was the sound defeat of Kagoshima Jyousai, the 3-1 upset win over Kamimura Gakuen.  And while they lost in the prefectural final to Kagoshima Jyouhou in the final, they made up for it by defeating Saga Kita and Nagasaki Nichidai before being routed by Seiseikou.

From what I can discern, the ace of the staff is Yoshikuni Takuya (吉国 拓哉), who is reported to throw in the low 130s with a slider, but not sure what else.

It'll be nice to see them at Koushien, but they'll have to work to get out of the opening round probably.

創成館 - Souseikan (Kyushu, Nagasaki, Isahaya-shi) - 1st appearance - C-
I do not believe that Souseikan will be the Ichinoseki Gakuin of the west and get passed up again for someone like Miyzaki Nichidai, though I have been wrong many times before.

Souseikan got one benefit by not having to play the 3rd place game in the prefecturals after losing to Isahaya.  Nagasaki was hosting the Super-Regionals.  And though wins against Kagoshima Jyouhou and Kurume Shougyou are not impressive, I still think the benefit of the doubt.

Oono Takuma (大野 拓麻) is their ace, a pitcher who throws in the upper 130s with an apparent curve, slider and fork.

But their fate is probably similar to Shoushikan.  Their body of work is weaker, they are in more low-scoring games, and will probably exit in the 1st round.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Handicapping the field (Part 2)

Well, we may have had one or two title contenders in the Higashi Nihon and Hokkaido areas.  Let's start heading west and seeing who else might challenge for the title.

Again, please note that these teams have not yet been invited, but this is my best estimate on who will be invited by the committee.

春江工 - Harue Kougyou (Hokushinetsu, Fukui, Sakai-shi) - 1st appearance - B-
Harue Kougyou is a bit of an enigma.  One of the better teams out of Fukui that lives in the shadow of teams such as Fukui Shougyou, Fukui Koudai Fukui, etc., Harue Kougyou survived through the prefectural final where they were annihilated by Tsuruga Kehi.  They then fought through 4 close games (their largest margin of victory was 2!) including a revenge final against Tsuruga Kehi.  A quality win against Urawa Gakuin at Meiji Jingu was a definite plus...

...until they were whitewashed by Kanzei 10-2...

Perhaps part of their success is their backstop Kurihara Ryouya (栗原 陵矢) who has a great arm to limit the running game.

Still though, the body of work outside of the Urawa Gakuin game isn't that impressive.  I do expect a close game against weaker opponents and perhaps a win.  But I do not see them making a deep run at all.

敦賀気比- Tsuruga Kehi (Hokushinetsu, Fukui, Tsuruga-shi) - 5th appearance, 2nd consecutive - C
Tsuruga Kehi isn't as much of a mystery, but might shed some light on Harue Kougyou.  You see, Tsuruga Kehi put up double digits in 4 of their 5 games (the only one was a 1-0 win over Fukui Shougyou).  But then turn the page to the Super-Regionals, and it was all 1-run games including 2 extra inning affairs.

In other words, it speaks to how weak the Fukui prefecturals were and in turn, how weak the Super-Regionals were as well.

Kishimoto Jyunki (岸本 淳希) takes over the ace position, this probably out of necessity as his 1-inning performance at Koushien last year was one he'd like to forget.  His control problems still remain (25:13 K:BB ratio), so while he can hurl it in the low 140s with a slider, curve and sinker, it won't do him much good if he walks more than his fair share of batters.

With Tsuruga Kehi struggling in the Super-Regionals, it's hard to project them to get out of the first round. They might get our of the first round thanks to their namesake, but that's about as fortunate as they will get.

県岐阜商 - Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Tokai, Gifu, Gifu-shi) - 27th appearance, 1st in 18 years! - C+
This is a bit of a surprise for me.  Not that Kengifushou has reached Senbatsu... but that they haven't been here in 18 years!  But it is actually a reminder that despite this being Kengifushou's 55th appearance in Haru-Natsu Koushiens, they aren't as strong as perhaps you or I think.

Now, they did beat Oogaki Nichidai 4-0 and defeated Tokoha Kikugawa 2-1.  But while they were able to improve on an 11-1 loss to Sendai Ikuei in the National Sports Festival, they still gave up 4 runs in the 9th to lose 6-2 in the 1st round of the Meiji Jingu Tournament.

Their ace is Fujita Ryouji (藤田 凌司), who apparently is another Oogushi (see Hokushou).  Gets to 130, but not much else, and has the slow curve.  He can hit the ball though.

I give them good odds to get past the first round, but not much else.

菰野 - Komono (Tokai, Mie, Komono-shi) - 1st appearance - C
Komono, despite being at Koushien a couple of times, this is their 1st appearance.

This despite having a secret ace in Urashima Souta (浦嶌 颯太).  He was never used in the fall, but can apparently hit 150 on the gun, with a standard slider and curve.

Instead it was ace Yamanaka Satoshi (山中 亨悟) who carried the team.  Though I can find no information on him other than the video.

Without much to go with, the body of work is a bit weak.  They happened to face Shiritsu Gifu Shougyou before facing Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou and losing.  They might have a chance to advance out of the first round, but it'll be tough.

常葉菊川 - Tokoha Kikugawa (Tokai, Shizuoka, Kikugawa-shi) - 4th appearance, 1st in 5 years - C
Man, when I first really started watching Koushien, it was when Tokoha Kikugawa seemed to make the impossible happen.

It was Senbatsu 2007, and Tokoha Kikugawa started off by defeating Sendai Ikuei 2-1.  Then they defeated Imabari Nishi (whom I had watched in person the prior summer) 10-0!  They wouldn't leave it there as down 1-0 to Osaka Touin in the quarterfinals they scored a run in the 8th and the 9th for the gyakuten win!

Oh, and then was the scrappy Kumamoto Kougyou squad.  Again down 4-3 with just 3 outs to go, they scored 3 for another comeback win.  And to put the cherry on top, down once again 5-3 in the finals to Oogaki Nichidai, they scored 3 to win their 1st title in just their 2nd attempt.

They put together 2 strong runs at Natsu Koushien after that, and cemented themselves a place in my mind and heart.

But after 2008, they disappeared.  Sure they made runs at the title (and they were even denied in the final in 2010 by their sister school Tokoha Tachibana!) but we haven't seen them since.

There are shades of that 2007 team in this team.  In the semifinals, they rallied not once but twice against Hiryuu to win 7-6.  They advanced to the Super-Regional despite a 14-1 loss in the final to Shizuoka.  And against Touhou, they let a lead slip before reasserting themselves in a 6-4 win.  This before giving up the sayonara run to Kengifushou in the semifinal.

I'll be glad when I hear their name called as one of the members in the 85th Senbatsu field.  But I'll treasure the time they're there though as I don't seem them lasting long, sadly.

Their ace is Horita Tatsuya (堀田 竜也), but I don't have much else on him other than that.

京都翔英 - Kyoto Shouei (Kinki, Kyoto, Uji-shi) - 1st appearance - B
Kyoto Shouei's ace is well, not?

Enomoto Kazuki (榎本 和輝) as seen in the first link against Ryuukokudai Heian wears the #3 jersey, yet was the predominant pitcher for the club.

But then in the 2nd clip, he starts against Hokushou in the Meiji Jingu tournament wearing #18, a number meant for relievers?!  Futhermore, he appears to have a bat to boot, so why doesn't he wear a starting number, much less the ace if he starts?

The only reason might be that he throws only in the high 130s with a curve, slider and fork.  But still, aces have been chosen on good teams for less than that.

Kyoto Shouei is a bit of an engima.  You see, the school was established in 1984, and had not experienced success as a team until 2010 when they lost to Kyoto Gaidai Nishi in the prefectural finals for Natsu Koushien.  Then they fell back into anonymity.

Then this fall, they go on a rampage, defeating the aforementioned Kyoto Gaidai Nishi, Kyoto Subaru, Fukuchiyama Seibi, Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku, Riseisha, Ryuukokudai Heian and Houtoku Gakuen before losing 3-1 to Hokushou at the Meiji Jingu tournament.

The games that Kyoto Shouei have been involved in have been mostly low-scoring affairs, but to limit the majority of these teams to a handful of runs is impressive.  They may certainly have the ability to make a deep run, but being first-timers is a big wild card.

報徳学園 - Houtoku Gakuen (Kinki, Hyogo, Nishinomiya-shi) - 19th appearance, 1st in 2 years - B+
Houtoku took one year off in 2012, but has come back thanks to ace Inui Ryouhei (乾 陽平).  The gun in the video has him in the high 130s, and just touching 140.  He has the standard slider and curve.

And even though he lost out to Enomoto and Kyoto Shouei in 12 innings, he also has a list of teams he left in his wake - Touyoudai Himeji, Kansei Gakuin, Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku, Fukuchiyama Seibi, and Osaka Touin (throwing a 7-inning 1-hitter no less!).

Of course, don't underestimate the power of home field advantage.  They're always a stone's throw away from Koushien Stadium, and they have a great fan base.  Combine that with the school's experience, and they stand to be one of the teams in the discussion when you talk about potential winners.

龍谷大平安 - Ryuukokudai Heian (Kinki, Kyoto, Kyoto-shi) - 37th appearance, 1st in 5 years - B-
Heian once again pokes its head into Koushien.  They've had a winning drought as of late, but get in thanks to wins against Chiben Wakayama and Yamato Kouryou.

Fukuoka Takumi (福岡 拓弥) started most of their games, outside of the game in the Super-Regional against Kyoto Shouei (perhaps to hide him for later?).  But other than that I have nothing else about him to report.

There are a lot of low scoring close affairs for Heian.  But, they've shown they can play the high scoring game if need be, which certainly helps.

But I don't have a lot to go on to analyze the team.  Given their performance at Natsu Koushien and their loss of most of their starting 9, they probably won't go far outside of a favorable draw.

大阪桐蔭 - Osaka Touin (Kinki, Osaka, Daitou-shi) - 6th appearance, 2nd consecutive - B+
Osaka Touin continues to chug along.  Yes, they lost Fujinami as the ace, but the offense continues to chug along.

How much?  In their 9 victories in the fall taikais, their combined scoring was 99-16, with their smallest margin being 5 runs against Uenomiya Taishi!

Mori Tomoya (森 友哉) returns as the lynchpin of the Touin offense.  And apparently, he hasn't missed a beat.  I'm still searching for actual statistics, but from the video, he continues to contribute on offense.  Plus, as the game caller he'll help the new aces.

3B Kasamatsu Yuuya (笠松 悠哉) also returns to help out Mori on the field.  Not necessarily a power hitter, he makes good contact and can get on base.

Joining them is new 1B Kinden Takuya (近田 拓矢) who was the backup last summer (#13), and SS Mizutani Yukiya (水谷 友生也) who was the backup middle infielder (#14).

Kuzugawa Tomoya (葛川 知哉) appears to have taken over as the ace of the staff.  Orginally given #9, he has taken over as #1 with a 145 kph fastball.  Before then, it appeared that Takanishi Ryouta (高西 涼太, formerly #18) had inherited the ace number.  He threw in the low-mid 140s with a good change, and a slider and curve.
The problem with Osaka Touin is that in their two losses, they fell to Riseisha in the Osaka final 3-1, then were 1 hit by Houtoku Gakuen 8-0 in a 7 inning game!

Those 2 games give me pause, especially the Houtoku Gakuen game.  To have the offense completely shut down, and the pitching give up 8 runs is a red flag.  However, it's only one game and perhaps it's not as serious, but at Senbatsu you cannot afford a bad game... unless you get lucky.  You cannot count them out to win their 3rd calendar Koushien title, but whenever you lose an ace it makes the job that much more difficult.

履正社 - Riseisha (Kinki, Osaka, Toyonaka-shi) - 5th appearance, 3rd consecutive - B-
Riseisha suffers from the fact that (a) they're in a big prefecture as Osaka, and (b) the road to the Osaka title goes through Osaka Touin.

That's why they're making their 3rd straight Senbatsu appearance.  They don't have to win the Osaka title to advance, which gives them a chance to receive and invitation.

This year though they did win the Osaka title, defeating Osaka Touin, and advanced to the quarterfinals where they lost to Kyoto Seishou, 3-1 in 12 innings.

Higashino Ryuuji (東野 龍二), who wore #17 at Senbatsu last year and started both games, becomes the true ace this time around.  From last spring, Higashino has a fastball that touches 130 and a slider in the high 110s and a fork in the low-mid 110s.

Riseisha's problem may be their offense.  Despite outscoring their opponents 60-5 in their games before the Osaka final, none were against established competition.  After that, in their next 3 games, they barely outscored their opposition 5-4:
  • 3-1 against Osaka Touin
  • 1-0 against Kansei Gakuin
  • 1-3 loss to Kyoto Seishou
The Osaka Touin win is definitely impressive.  But scoring 1 against Kansei Gakuin, then losing to relative unknown Kyoto Seishou (despite them winning the Super-Regional) suggests they will struggle to score runs at Senbatsu.

大和広陵 - Yamato Kouryou (Kinki, Nara, Kouryou-machi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 28 years - B-
Yamato Kouryou will get in ahead of Tenri because they have something that Tenri hasn't had for a while... a staff ace.

Tachita Shouta (立田 将太) is a super rookie who is *pinches fingers* this close to hitting 150.  Not only that, but he apparently already has a slider, curve, and forkball to go along with it.

Here's the thing, as perhaps a strategic move for the summer, Yamato Kouryou did not start Tachita against Tenri in the prefectural final.  So he wasn't responsible for the 5-1 loss.  Furthermore, he gave up just 2 runs in a 2-0 loss to Ryuukokudai Heian.  Sure, they aren't an offensive powerhouse, but it's still solid nonetheless.

The problem is offense.  They will be subject to low scoring games, and in a single-elimination format, that is a big problem.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Handicapping the field (Part 1)

All right, we're approaching the end of the calendar year, and it's about time I started handicapping the projected field for the 85th Senbatsu.

北照 - Hokushou (Hokkaido, Otaru-shi) - 5th overall, 2nd consecutive - B-
Hokushou reaches Senbatsu for yet another time.  But there was no dominance throughout the prefecturals, and barely got by some of the stronger teams in the prefecture.

A hard fought 5-3 win over Sapporo Nichidai, they almost let a 7-1 lead over Engaru slip away in the semifinals, then battled with the resurging Komadai Tomakomai, barely taking the title 7-5.

Oogushi Kazuya (大串 和弥), who lead the team at Senbatsu last year, does the same again this year.  Thanks to the new video, his fastball according to the Meiji Jingu gun has reached the 130 mark, but the slider and curve still sit in the 110s and 100s respectively - which leads to a lot of contact, a lot of pulled balls, and a K every 3 innings.

Hokushou has done good to reach their 2nd straight Senbatsu, but that's all they will get.  Teams from Hokkaido do not generally fare well, and Hokushou looks like a team that is weaker then the average entrant.

仙台育英 - Sendai Ikuei (Tohoku, Miyagi, Sendai-shi) - 10th appearance, 1st in 6 years - A-
Sendai Ikuei not only won the Tohoku Super-Regional, but the Meiji Jingu tournament - giving their area 4 teams to Senbatsu this year.  And they have some unfinished business to attend to.

Last summer, in the block final, they fell to Sakushin Gakuin 3-2.

They've changed tacks, and this time around there is easily one word to describe Sendai Ikuei - offense.

In their 11 games this fall, they have outscored their opponents 88-20.  Two players to potentially watch for is CF Uebayashi Seiji (上林 誠知) and LF Hasegawa Yuta (長谷川 寛)

But offense alone cannot get you a championship title.  You need to have strong enough pitching as well to earn the title.  Even my rival Sanko in 2011 had Yoshinaga, who was wild but effective.

Sendai Ikuei doesn't have that.  They generally use a tandem of #10 Baba Kousuke (馬場 皐輔) and #1 Suzuki Takato (鈴木 天斗).

Both appear to throw in the 130's, so it'll be all down to control for them to be successful.  They don't have to be great, they just have to manage the game.

For that alone, they only get an A- instead of the A or A+ they might get as a favorite.

聖光学院 - Seikou Gakuin (Tohoku, Fukushima, Koori-machi) - 4th appearance, 2nd consecutive - B
Seikou Gakuin has been a staple of Natsu Koushien as the representative of Fukushima.  This is just their 4th Senbatsu appearance though.

1B Sonobe Satoshi (園部 聡) has to be the lynchpin of the Seikou offense.  Last summer, he was 3-6 with a HR and 4 RBIs.  Before him, Yaoita Hyuuma (八百板 飛馬) didn't fare badly himself in the Super-Regional semifinals and finals.

Seikou Gakuin's MO hasn't changed.  They take care of business when they're supposed to, but stumble when facing quality competition.  The 5-4 win over Moriokadai Fuzoku and the 8-4 loss to Sendai Ikuei (which wasn't as close) highlight this.

Chances are they'll do what they've normally done so long as they don't face a hard matchup right off the bat.  Win one, then be done.

盛岡大付属 - Moriokadai Fuzoku (Tohoku Memorial Bid, Iwate, Morioka-shi) - 3rd appearance, 1st in 2 years - C-
Moriokadai Fuzoku has done well to reach Koushien over the last decade+.  But while they have had success getting there, they are 0-9 in Koushien games (both Haru and Natsu).

Matsumoto Hiroki (松本 裕樹) is a first year who has succeeded the ace position at Moriokadai.  He throws in the low 140s with a curveball discovered as of now.

This fall, it was a bunch of low scoring games.  A 4-3 nail-biter against oft-spurned Ichinoseki Gakuin, and a 5-4 loss to Seikou Gakuin in the semis after holding a 4-1 lead are the notable games.  Yes, there was a 4-2 win over Tohoku along the way, but they don't seem to be the same team in the last couple of years.

Given their close games in the prefectural and the super-regionals, Moriokadai Fuzoku probably did just enough to get in, but will probably go to 0-10 in Koushien games.

青森山田 - Aomori Yamada (Tohoku Meiji Jingu Bid, Aomori, Aomori-shi) - 2nd appearance, 1st in 8 years - C
I expect Aomori Yamada to get the final bid out of Tohoku instead of Sakata Minami based on their mutual performances against Sendai Ikuei.

It'll be a welcome return after several years off.  Remember Kousei Gakuin had taken over as not only the best in the prefecture, but 3 times 1 game short of being the best team in the country.

This fall though, Kousei's run appears to be over.  They fell 6-5 to Aomori Yamada in the prefectural semi, then was mercy ruled by Sakata Minami.

So Aomori Yamada steps back in to fill the gap, and doesn't miss a beat earning a trip to Koushien.

Looking at the scores though, it appears that their success hides a problem - that they could possibly play to their competition.  Whether they're strong or weak, they play up or down to their level.  It'll make for close games and maybe an upset, but asking to win a lot of close games is a bit much.

浦和学院 - Urawa Gakuin (Kanto ex/Tokyo, Saitama, Saitama-shi) - 9th appearance, 3rd consecutive - B
Urawa Gakuin too got as far as Sendai Ikuei, and in fact was eliminated on the same day last summer.

And while they almost stumbled against Ageo in the Saitama quartefinals, they revenged their loss the prefectural final to Hanasaki Tokuharu and then defeated them in the Super-Regional final.

However, at Meiji Jingu, they had 2 close games against Kochi and Harue Kougyou - two teams not really known as 高校野球 powerhouses.

While Yamaguchi Rui (山口 瑠偉), a 2nd year who throws in the low 140s with a slider, curve and fork, had the inside track when he started in place of Satou last Natsu Koushien, his struggles - and #14 Ojima Kazuya's (小島 和哉) success against Tenri meant that it was Ojima, not Yamaguchi that was promoted to the ace position.  He throws a slider, change and curve but his fastball goes only in the 130s.

They will not be able to consistently overpower teams, so the pitching will have to carry them.  But given their staff, it's hard to say that they will be able to do that.

花咲徳栄 - Hanasaki Tokuharu (Kanto ex/Tokyo, Saitama, Kazo-shi) - 3rd appearance, 1st in 3 years - B-
Hanasaki Tokuharu returns to Senbatsu after a small time off.  As mentioned earlier, Hanasaki Tokuharu and Urawa Gakuin pretty much paralleled themselves as they met in the prefectural and Super-Regional final.  They did however have what appears to be quality wins against Narashino (12-0!) and Yokohama Hayato.

But in looking for players, they don't have any named pitchers out there, just a catcher named Wakatsuki Kenya (若月 健矢).

They perhaps should be on level for Urawa Gakuin, but there's probably a bit to prove still for them.

常総学院 - Jyousou Gakuin (Kanto ex/Tokyo, Ibaraki, Tsuchiura-shi) - 7th appearance, 1st in 8 years - C
宇都宮商 - Utsunomiya Shougyou (Kanto ex/Tokyo, Tochigi, Utsunomiya-shi) - 3rd appearance, 1st in 34 years - C-
I can't really find anything about Jyousou Gakuin and Utsunomiya Shougyou other than their results, and their ace pitchers Iida Harumi (飯田 晴海) for Jyousou Gakuin and some highlights of Utsunomiya Shougyou against Hikawa (see 5:15).  What's interesting about the Utsunomiya video is that it highlighted the two pitchers they predominantly used, #18 Shibayama Kauzhiro (柴山和博), and #8 Iioka Kenta (飯岡 健太). Neither is their ace number!  Instead Arai Ryou (新井 諒) plays center and bats cleanup.

And both did about the same, struggling in the Super-Regional quarterfinals before falling in the next round.

They'll both be glad to have made it to Senbatsu, but I don't imagine them getting out of the first round.

安田学園 - Yasuda Gakuen (Tokyo, Sumida-ku) - 1st appearance - B
Yasuda Gakuen earns their first ever appearance gritting out some wins against Kokushikan, Nittai Ebara and Waseda Jitsugyou.  The 3-2 loss to Kanzei in the Meiji Jingu Tournament give some credibility to their run this fall.

The only player of note is C Takami Shunsuke (深見 俊介) who apparently has gotten attention for his quick throw to 2nd base.  If he can keep that up, he can prevent teams from running and perhaps help out the offense in not having to score as many runs.

早稲田実 - Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo, Kokubunji-shi) - 20th appearance, 1st in 3 years - B
Soujitsu should make it now by name brand.  Though if one were to look at their road to the final, there is nothing outside of the 11-5 win over Souka before their loss to Yasuda Gakuen.

Oddly it was #12 Nishiyama Ryou (西山諒) that Soujitsu mainly depended upon to reach the final. 

Their name may get them an extra game if they face an inexperienced opponent - hence an upgrade from a B- to a B, but asking them to win it all this time around may be a bit much to ask.