(photo courtesy of Kyoto Shinbun)
Road to Haru Koushien
- def Echiko/Nagahama Nougyou/Notogawa 7x-0 (8 inn)
- def Torahime 12-0 (5 inn)
- def Hieizan 6-2
- def Hachiman Shougyou 10-0 (5 inn)
- def Oumi 4x-3 (14 inn)
- def Chiben Wakayama 13x-6 (8 inn)
- def Houtoku Gakuen 1-0
- lost Riseisha 3-6
Shiga Gakuen makes good on last year’s performance, returning to Haru Koushien after a good showing their first time out. They defeated the teams they perhaps should have, but at the same time were put back in their place by eventual champs Chiben Gakuen. While they did not reach Natsu Koushien, they revenged their finals loss to Oumi in the prefectural finals. Chiben Wakayama is not the team it has been in the past, and the same could be said for Houtoku Gakuen. And as mentioned in the Riseisha review, while Shiga Gakuen caught them at the right time losing the game 6-3 is far from disgraceful. The question will have to be whether or not their squad has improved over last year to become contenders.
The team returns both starters from last year – ace Kamimura Hikari (神村 月光) and reliever Tanahara Kouta (棚原 孝太). Kamimura throws in the upper 130s with a wide variety of pitches including a slider, changeup, splitter, curve and shuuto, though he didn’t strike out a ton of batters at Koushien outside of the Kiryuu Dai-ichi game. Also this year Tanahara is getting more usage it seems, spot starting Kamimura at times. I didn’t have much data on him as others as I slowly have a harder and harder time staying up late for games, but in terms of velocity he sits about average in the mid-130s. The extra year of experience certainly will benefit them, it’s just a matter of if they’ve been able to progress as pitchers though the margin of error still is razor thin.
Offensively the team has a massive black hole at the bottom of the lineup. The 7-9 batters went a combined 6-42 (0.143) in the super-regionals and half of those hits came in the wacky Chiben Wakayama game where they scored 9 unanswered runs to trigger the mercy rule and scored all 13 runs on just 14 hits. Oh, and they only walked twice in the game as well.
Probably the most consistent hitter is actually their #6 batter 3B Yamamoto Shunpei (山本峻平) who was 6-12 in the super-regionals though he wasn’t really an run producer. SS Kohama Ryouji (小浜 崚史) was more productive though inconsistent hitting 7-13 with a HR and 3 RBIs, but went 0-4 in the Houtoku Gakuen game. For reference though, that one run was actually a home run hit by Chinen Yoshitomo(?) (知念 良智).
In the end I think Shiga Gakuen is still in the place it was last year. Good enough to beat the riff-raff, but not necessarily good enough to beat the top competition. They may not be disgraced doing so, but they’ll still fall nonetheless.