(Picture as shown courtesy of Asahi Shinbun)
Well, as you can see the Meiji Jingu Taikai is complete with Riseisha claiming the title, and thus securing the Meiji Jingu Bid for the Kinki region. Usually this seems bad because that extra team can be dangerous. But with the Kinki field falling they way it did, they actually had the freedom to go and win the title without letting in a possible contender.
So what does the projected Haru Koushien field look like as we hit the only real break for these teams?
Teams are color-coded by safety, green are considered locks, orange are probable, red are longshots
- Sapporo Dai-ichi – 2nd appearance, 2nd consecutive
- Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
- Moriokadai Fuzoki (Iwate)
Kanto (4 + floating bid w/Tokyo)
- Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi)
- Toukaidai Ichihara Bouyou (Chiba)
- Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma)
- Kendai Takasaki (Gunma)
- Keio Gijyuku (Kanagawa)
Tokyo (1 + floating bid w/Kanto)
- Waseda Jitsugyou
Nichidai-san would have behooved themselves to have won the Tokyo Super-Regional as the JHBF probably would have guaranteed to select Waseda Jitsugyou to bring Kiyomiya back to Koushien. Despite the loss, I still see the JHBF sending the floating bid to Tokyo.
The question is if either of the Gunma teams could be bypassed. Maebashi Ikuei played the eventual runner-ups Toukaidai Ichihara Bouyou close, but they in turn were no match for Sakushin Gakuin (though with nothing at stake, this argument is dulled). The good news is that they defeated the team most likely to pass them, though in that game Maebashi Ikuei had to come from behind to win.
Kendai Takasaki does not have such luxury, but does have a quality win over Yokohama. However, with that only to their name that could be a problem.
The potential challenger defeated Yokohama in the prefectural final (which again doesn’t count as much), and Hanasaki Tokuharu. It’s certainly not as strong as a resume as one would like to challenge, but it’s not dismissable either. Of course, if the JHBF decides to go against Nichidai-san, then this discussion is all moot.
- Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui)
- Takaoka Shougyou (Toyama)
- Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa (Ishikawa)
While I have Takaoka Shougyou as a probable, they’re probably still secure for the 2nd Hokishinetsu spot since they had quality wins in the Super-Regionals against both Fukui Shougyou and Nihon Bunri.
The only reason Nihon Koukuu Ishikawa is even being considered is that they defeated the 2 representatives of Ishikawa at Natsu Koushien the last 5 years – Yuugakukan and Seiryou, and made a furious comeback against Fukui Koudai Fukui.
I’m not sure if those wins in prefecture are enough though to overtake Takaoka Shougyou, but they can’t be fully dismissed either.
- Shizuoka (Shizuoka)
- Shigakukan (Aichi)
- Chuukyoudai Chuukyou (Aichi)
Shigakukan’s problem is that in the Super-Regional final, they were 2-hit by Shizuoka. This, plus their weak schedule is a big issue for them.
In addition, what would be a positive for them, that the only team that could threaten them they defeated in the semi-finals (Chuukyoudai Chuukyou) is actually not. Because in that game, Chuukyoudai Chuukyou had the lead only to lose it in the bottom of the 9th. Even in the win, Shigakukan managed just 5 hits.
Shigakukan can’t even go back to the prefecturals for different form lines. And the only connection hurts them too. Chuukyoudai Chuukyou defeated Kyouei 9-7 in the prefectural semifinals (they actually were up 9-1 but gave up a big inning). Kyouei was sent to the 3rd place match where they faced Shigakukan in a must-win game, and they were the ones having to chase late winning 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th.
The only things Shigakukan has in their favor are (1) beating Chuukyoudai Chuukyou head-to-head, and (2) the ability to come from behind while Chuukyoudai Chuukyou has to hold on for dear life (Nihon Bunri anyone?).
- Riseisha (Osaka)
- Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo)
- Shiga Gakuen (Shiga)
- Osaka Touin (Osaka)
- Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
- Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo)
Chuugoku (2 + floating bid w/Shikoku)
- Ube Kougyou (Yamaguchi)
- Shiritsu Kure (Hiroshima)
- Soushi Gakuen (Okayama)
Shikoku (2 + floating bid w/Chuugoku)
- Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
- Teikyou Dai-go (Ehime)
The floating bid is in my opinion a lock. Soushi Gakuen earns it by playing eventual champions Ube Koujyou close when runner-ups Shiritsu Kure could not.
- Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka)
- Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka)
- Kumamoto Kougyou (Kumamoto)
- Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)
- Reimei (Kagoshima)
Shuugakukan, the lightning rod of the last Natsu Koushien, is actually at-risk of being looked over. They did not look good against the Super-Regional champs Fukuokadai Oohori, and have few quality wins.
Reimei actually were leading the eventual runner-ups Toukaidai Fukuoka before faltering late, and have quality wins of their own to match Shuugakukan:
Shuugakukan (in prefecturals)
- Semifinals – def Kyushu Gakuin 1-0
- Finals – def Kumamoto Kougyou 6-3
Reimei (in prefecturals)
- 3rd round – def Shounan 5-4
- Finals – def Kagoshima Jitsugyou 5-4
The question is whether or not the resume is enough to put Reimei in front of Shuugakukan. Shuugakukan no longer has the 4-headed monster they had before with the graduation of Arimura Taisei and Nakai Yuusuke. And Taura Fuminaru was easily the weakest of the 3 main options Kajisha-kantoku used. The window that may have been there for them to win the title may have already passed. Worse yet, even if they make it it doesn’t look like Kajisha-kantoku has learned anything from last summer.
Meiji Jingu Bid (1 – Kinki via Riseisha)
- Uenomiya Taisha (Osaka)
- Takada Shougyou (Nara)
This Meiji Jingu Bid will be tricky. 5 prefectures are projected to have multiple teams. Uenomiya Taishi would make 3 teams from Osaka, which is obviously unprecedented. They did beat Riseisha in the prefectural final, but since both teams advanced to the Super-Regionals it may not be a full quality win. But the committee will prolly find it hard to give the bid to Takada Shougyou as they didn’t really show anything to suggest that they deserve it
21st Century Bids (3)
Where the committee may make up the duplicates is the 21st century bids. I’m not sure any prefecture that already has a bid already will get another one, unless the argument is very convincing.
Per this article, the 21st century schools are the following:
- Hokkaido – Not announced
- Aomori – Hirosaki Higashi
- Akita – Yokote
- Iwate – Kozugata
- Yamagata – Yamagata Minami
- Fukushima – Odaka Kougyou
- Miyagi – Sanuma
- Tochigi – Ishibashi
- Ibaraki – Tokiwadai
- Gunma – Maebashi Nishi
- Saitama – Kawagoe Kougyou
- Kanagawa – Yokohama Sougakukan
- Chiba – Chuo Gakuin
- Tokyo – Toritsu Hino
- Yamanashi – Nirasaki Kougyou
- Niigata – Murakmi Sakuragaoka
- Nagano – Komoro Shougyou
- Toyama – Toyama Higashi
- Ishikawa – Iida
- Fukui – Usui
- Shizuoka – Nirayama
- Gifu – Tajimi
- Aichi – Sakuragaoka
- Mie – Yokkaichi
- Shiga – Hikone Shouyou/Hikone Shousei (Hikone Shousei is new school from merger of Hikone Shouyou and Hikone Nishi)
- Kyoto – Rakusei
- Nara – Takatori Kokusai
- Wakayama – Hidaka
- Osaka – Imamiya
- Hyogo – Sanda Shousei
- Okayama – Tamashima Shougyou
- Hiroshima – Not announced
- Shimane – Ooda
- Tottori – Kurayoshi Higashi
- Yamaguchi – Kumage Minami
- Kagawa – Tonoshou
- Tokushima – Seikou Gakuen (生光学園)
- Ehime – Imabari Kita Oomishima
- Kochi – Nakamura
- Fukuoka – Kokura Kougyou
- Saga – Shiroishi
- Nagasaki – Nagasaki Higashi
- Miyazaki – Takachiho
- Oita – Oita Nishi
- Kumamoto – Kuma Kougyou
- Kagoshima – Takeokadai
- Okinawa – Miyako Sougou Jitsugyou
In the same article, the famous Laga-san (ラガー), who you may know from his striped 2-color sweaters he wears behind home plate, gave his 3 picks for the 21st century schools highlighted in green. He chose them because of the following:
- Kozugata – Another Tohoku school (natch), and reached the finals of Iwate with a team of just 10 people.
- Tajimi – Won the Gifu prefecturals, has a 100 year history.
- Nakamura – Won the Kochi prefecturals by shutting out Meitoku Gijyuku.
Each certainly has a story, especially Kozugata and Nakamura (Nakamura also played Eimei to 13 innings before losing). The only problem is that they are representing prefectures already with bids, and as mentioned before that may be a problem. We’ll just have to wait and see who the committee picks as the Super-Regional finalists.
One more thing from Laga-san. He actually gives the edge to Keio 60-40 in the floating bid over Nichidai-san. It has been a while since Keio has been there, and hearing the Keio Chance song from the school that originated it would be good to hear. I can’t really rule it out, and he certainly has more experience than I do.