(photo courtesy of Mainichi Shinbun)
Road to Haru Koushien
- def Ouji Kougyou 12-1 (7 inn)
- def Ikoma 7x-0 (8 inn)
- def Nara Kita 11-8
- def Kashihara 7-0 (7 inn)
- def Takatori Kokusai 2-1
- lost Chiben Gakuen 4-5
- def Wakayama Higashi 9x-8 (13 inn)
- lost Riseisha 0-7x (8 inn)
The voting methods of the JHBF baffle me at times. While I mentioned in my announcement post that I understood that it would be hard to invite 3 Osaka teams directly at least Uenomiya Taishi could have been the first team out. But instead it was Takada Shougyou’s opponent Wakayama Higashi that sat ahead of them. I guess since in the end neither was going to make it it doesn’t matter, but in principle for me it does. Anyways, we have what we have and Nara gets a 2nd team in the form of Takada Shougyou, which by process of elimination was the only real team left for them to select.
The resume is a bit average. If we took the general state of affairs in Nara, losing narrowly to Chiben Gakuen is not a bad thing. But Chiben Gakuen is in a bit of a rebuilding phase right now, so they’re not as strong as in prior years. The enchousen game against Wakayama Higashi isn’t great either considering the loss of leadership at Chiben Gakuen has created a vacuum of sorts in the prefecture. And then there is the blowout loss to Riseisha where they just managed 2 hits.
Offensively, the team isn’t much better. In their last 4 games, the team as a whole batted 30-127 with their overall slash line being 0.236/0.289/0.315. Their best hitter by far is 2B Ueda Yuuki (上田 有輝) who was 5-16 with 3 RBIs followed up perhaps by CF Nakao Tsubasa (中尾 翼). But with holes all over the rest of the lineup, it’s hard to imagine them having success at Koushien.
What is saving Takada Shougyou right now is their ace, Furukawa Hibiki (古川 響輝). He’s not a fireballer by any stretch of the imagination, his velocity is average at best in the mid 130s. However, he reportedly features 6 pitches – slider, curve, changeup, forkball, cut fastball and shuuto. The quality of each of those pitches may be another story though. Since we have 2 relatively high quality opponents to get data from, let’s take a look at his lines:
- vs Chiben Gakuen – 8 IP, 5 R, (4 ER), 10 H, 3 K, 2 BB
- vs Riseisha – 7 IP, 7 R, (6 ER), 6 H, 7 K, 3 BB
Which works out to a 6.00 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP, 6.00 K/9 and 3.00 BB/9. Could be worse against those teams, so on the overall it’s probably ok.
His only problem will be the fact that his offense is so anemic that he’s going to have to find a way to carry the team. And given that his performance against Wakayama Higashi he gave up 8 runs in 9 innings before turning the ball over to Sugita Kouichi (杉田 晃一) I’m not sure it’s going to be enough.
The JHBF was pretty much left in a bind as to who to nominate as the Meiji Jingu bid. But the minute they decided that 3 Osaka teams weren’t possible, there was no choice left. I just have a hard time imagining them being able to go far in the tournament. They may be able to pull off a win or two if given a favorable schedule, but that’s only if they’re lucky.