Month: July 2017

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/25)

5 champs crowned yesterday, some as Niigata and Yamagata were rained out.

Crowned Champs

Akita – Meiou (9th appearance, 1st in 8 years)

Action was pretty much one way in this matchup. Meiou opened the scoring, and basically held Kanaashi Nougyou off the basepaths all game. Their 3rd pitcher Satou gave up a run in the 9th, but a 5-1 win and Meiou will get a chance, albeit 8 years later, to wipe that ill-timed throw to 3rd out of people’s memories.

Chiba – Kisaradzu Sougou (6th appearance, 2nd consecutive)

I saw the first couple of innings of this final. Wanted to watch it all because I so badly want Narashino to make it back to Koushien. But they were playing catchup all night and wound up never leading, falling 4-3. They had their chances it seems, but just could never get themselves ahead. And so it’s another year with them on the sidelines as Kisaradzu Sougou takes hold of Chiba.

Kyoto – Kyoto Seishou (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)

I caught the game in the middle, but by then it was already over. While Heian had just scored 3 in the top of the 5th, it was a drop in the bucket as they still strailed 12-4 to Kyoto Seishou. There really wasn’t a need to watch the rest of the game as Kitayama did what he needed to do to win the game. 12-6 and Just like that Kyoto Seishou is on their way back to Natsu Koushien after a long absence.

Hiroshima – Kouryou (22nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)

Hiroshima, or at least Hiroshima teams stick in my mind for rain delays. A Natsu Koushien a couple of years back had Jyosuikan try 2 times to play a game, only to have it rained out. I think they even led both times. And on the 3rd try they lost.

Well, the Hiroshima final was rain delayed before the start, and again after the 2nd inning. Once the game resumed, it was Kouryou who jump started things, with a 6 run 4th capped off by a HR from #3 batter Nakamura. But what was 6-0 became 6-2 and then 6-5. But reliever Yamamoto came in and shut things down in the 7th and got out of a 1st/3rd situation in the 8th. Kouryou made his job easier with 3 runs in the 9th and that was that.

Oita –  Meihou (6th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

I thought this would be more contested than it actually was. Meihou ace Hashidzume Kaito pitches a 3-hit shutout. Only strikes out 2, but 3 hits is 3 hits. Meihou will try once again to replicate the success of Imamiya from 2009.

Contested Finals

Yamagata (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nichidai Yamagata (Tier 2) v Yamagata Chuo (Tier 2)

Niigata (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nihon Bunri (Tier 1) v Chuuetsu (Tier 2)

See prior review on the 21st as teams have been rained out.

Saitama – Urawa Gakuin v Hanasaki Tokuharu

Ibaraki – Kasumigaura v Tsuchiura Nichidai

Guess Tohoku/Hokushinetsu region played rain tag. Saitama and Ibaraki rained out. Review to come tomorrow.

Shizuoka (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nichidai Mishima (Tier 3) v Fujieda Meisei (Tier 3)

This is an actual surprise to not see not one of Shizuoka, Tokohadai Tachibana or Tokohadai Kikugaka (formerly Tokoha Tachibana and Tokoha Kikugawa respectively). But the Tokohadai schools both lost in the quarterfinals, and Shizuoka (who defeated Tokohadai Tachibana) was paper-cutted to death by Fujieda Meisei as they scored 1 run from the 3rd to 7th innings. Oh, and 3 in the 2nd and 6 in the 9th to seal the deal.

While Fujieda Meisei can say they’ve beaten Shizuoka, ace Kubota struggled early in the matchup and could have fatigue issues in the final. For Nichidai Mishima, they’ve used a set of pitchers in their games and could actually have the advantage despite the lack of key competition faced.

Shiga (2030 PDT/2330 EDT) – Hikone Higashi (Tier 3) v Oumi (Tier 2)

For some reason I thought Hikone Higashi was on a higher level than they actually are. Instead they’ve toiled being good, but not good enough. And their nemesis hasn’t been one of the powerhouses like Oumi or Kita-Ootsu, but instead another school who had been toiling in Minokuchi. In fact, in 3 of the prior 5 years Minokuchi has specifically ended their run, wherever they were at that point of the taikai. This year, they faced them yet again, this time in the semifinals. And while neither team got a lot of hits off the other, Hikone Higashi did more with it, scoring 5 runs late against ace Miyawaki to advance to the finals.

Oumi meanwhile is looking for its 2nd consecutive appearance and 3rd in 4 years. They’ve given up just 1 run, and that was to Ritsumeikan Moriyama in the 3rd round. But they’ve not faced any of the other prefectural powerhouses so Hikone Higashi should provide their toughest test.

Mie (2030 PDT/2330 EDT) – Mie (Tier 1) v Tsuda Gakuen (Tier 3)

Mie despite being a Tier 1 school in my eyes, feels like they still play with a blue-collar mentality. Not sure why, but it’s endeared me to them in some way. Even more so after that 2014 final where I think Osaka Touin played mind games with them to take the title. Still won’t forgive them for that.

They would have been perhaps the favorites to take the title up until their semifinal against Tsu Shougyou where they survived a late inning flurry of runs to advance 6-5 using 4 pitchers to bring the team home.

That probably opens the door for Tsuda Gakuen who has blown out their competition so far, mercy-ruling all games except for their first against Hisai. They can also count a mercy-rule win over Komono in the semifinals as a point in their corner as well.

The question is if perhaps Mie’s pitching has been stretched out too far at this point and if Tsuda Gakuen can take advantage of it.

Kochi (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Meitoku Gijyuku (Tier 1) v Yusuhara (No Tier)

This is a first I think. We all know who Meitoku Gijyuku is, so there’s no need to discuss their legitimacy. They’re going for their 8th straight title and only dropped runs to Kouchi Shougyou. The 2-0 win versus Okou can be a bit concerning, especially when it comes on just 5 hits.

But the surprise is no tier Yusuhara. A team that had won just 10 games from Natsu 2007 to Aki 2016 is now in the finals. The secret is kantoku Yokokawa Tsunehiro, who formerly coached Muroto when they made their one and only Koushien appearance, sending the team to the quarterfinals of the 2007 Haru Koushien.

He was called upon, despite being in retirement, to become the kantoku of Yusuhara in 2013. Since then they have won 1 game in each taikai save for 2 occasions. And now, with wins over Kochi and Nakamura, find themselves in the finals against the #1 team in the prefecture. There is no second chance like Muroto had, but if they can somehow pull off the upset, it would be one amazing thing. And perhaps for one day, bring back the romanticism of 高校野球.

Teams in finals

Aomori – Aomori Yamada (Tier 3) v Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei (Tier 1)

There was a time where Aomori Yamada annually was a contender to go to Koushien. I’m not exactly sure what happened after 2009 if there was something that happened to them as a school, or if it was just the rise of Kousei Gakuin (nka Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei), but they’ve been relegated to Tier 3 status after a decade’s worth of dominance.

They poked their heads back into things last spring, but now is a chance for them to perhaps take it to the team that has supplanted them as the powerhouse of Aomori.

And one could argue that Kousei is on the downswing. Sure, they’ve still made appearances every year, but I suppose nothing matches the string in 2011-2012 when they made 3 straight Koushien finals, losing to Nichidai-san in Natsu 2011, and then losing to Osaka Touin in both Haru and Natsu of 2012.

But the games they’ve put together so far are a message that they’re not done quite yet as the top team.

Funny thing is, the last time these teams played in the Natsu taikai was back in 2012. And even more interesting, in the matchups they have played, it’s been Aomori Yamada who has been on the right side of the ledger.

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/24) – Champs and Finals!

Slowly, because mother nature abhors doing things in mass, we are getting our finalists.

Crowned Champions

Iwate – Moriokadai Fuzoku (10th appearance, 2nd consecutive)

Kuji was in the game for the first half, down just 2-0 at the break. Against a team like Moriokadai Fuzoku you could easily be worse. And when I saw that Kuji had a leadoff double to start the top of the 6th, my thought was “they have to score here” if they don’t they’re done.

They didn’t score, and Ueda hits a 2-run HR in the bottom of the frame. He hits one more in the 7th as Moriokadai Fuzoku pulls away for 9-0 win and another Natsu Koushien appearance.

Nagano – Matsushou Gakuen (36th appearance, 1st in 9 years)

I didn’t get a chance to catch the 1st inning, but saw that 4 for Matsushou Gakuen and thought “whoa, wasn’t expecting that”. But Matsushou Gakuen had unfinished business from last year when Saku Chousei routed them in the finals.

And yet, Saku Chousei was far from done. The Tier 1 school did what Tier 1 schools do and is claw their way back. By the end of the 6th they had pulled the game level and Matsushou Gakuen was on the verge of losing it much like Toukaidai Sapporo did the other day.

But Iryou came through with a timely hit in the 8th to give Matsushou Gakuen the lead, and ace Naoe Daisuke shut the door in the final 2 innings to complete their revenge and bring the team back to Koushien.

Kumamoto – Shuugakukan (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)

I’m not sure why I didn’t see this game through. I saw early on when the teams were knotted at 1-1. It stayed that way all the way to the 9th as both teams really didn’t do a whole lot, especially Kyushu Gakuin who really needed to get to the Shuugakukan duo.

But that duo, even if weaker from the 4-headed monster from last year, was still better off than perhaps a single ace. Because Kyushu Gakuin’s Tajiri in the 9th had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Hanjyou Touma delivers a base hit driving in both runners and giving Shuugakukan the 3-1 lead with just 3 outs to play. Taura closes his relief stint out without giving up a hit and Shuugakukan is back at Koushien again.

Last of all, best wishes to Kajisha-kantoku. Hopefully he comes back to be with the team at Koushien.

Today’s Contested Finals

Akita (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Meiou (Tier 3) v Kanaashi Nougyou (Tier 3)

The last time Meiou was at Koushien in 2009 I believe they lost in heartbreaking manner when the C tried to pick off the runner at 3rd only to have the throw go into left field. It goes without saying it was completely unnecessary and a terribly way to lose.

Ever since then they’ve gone back down to middling in the ranks of Akita, bumping heads against the top teams. They’re here in the title game having avoided all the possible traps along the way.

The same can be said for Kanaashi Nougyou who also has avoided playing the top teams in Akita and has had an easy road to the final. Two Tier 3 schools to the finals and both will be desperate to win this game.

Chiba (1800 PDT/2100 EDT) – Narashino (Tier 2) v Kisaradzu Sougou (Tier 1)

Narashino is back in the finals again, within a stone’s throw away from Koushien. It hasn’t been pretty at times, and they’ve avoided the powerhouses. They’ve done what has been asked, but now a major obstacle stands in the way in defending champs Kisaradzu Sougou.

And Kisaradzu Sougou is no easy task as they have given up just 4 runs in 6 games. 2 in their opening game against Nagareyama Ootaki no Mori and then in their semifinal versus Toukaidai Ichihara Bouyou.

It’s a big ask, but man I would love to hear Narashino back at Koushien. I ran out the door, but I would have had my Narashino jersey on otherwise to support them.

Niigata (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nihon Bunri (Tier 1) v Chuuetsu (Tier 1)

See prior review

Kyoto (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Ryuukokudai Heian (Tier 1) v Kyoto Seishou (Tier 3)

Heian has pretty much breezed through save for a 4-3 win over Toba. Not the best game to put at the top of the resume, but they’re here nonetheless. Kyoto Seishou gets a chance to go back to Koushien and if I remember correctly, it was that team that gave their ace the #18 number instead of the standard #1.

They had a close game versus fellow Tier 3 school Kyoto Gaidai Nishi, and then had to come back versus no-tier Doushisha Kokusai. Their walk numbers are scary, and by scary I mean horrendous. They’ve got their work ahead of them today.

Hiroshima (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Hiroshima Shinjyou (Tier 1) v Kouryou (Tier 1)

For the longest time Kouryou and Jyosuikan both dominated Hiroshima and any road to Koushien went through one, if not both teams.

But in recent years, one team has broken that foothold – Hiroshima Shinjyou. And this year they are looking for their 3rd straight appearance.

To me it’s amazing that Kouryou may be the underdog in this matchup. Kouryou has almost scored double digits in every game so far, except for the semifinal versus Hiroshima Shougyou where a solo HR by C Nakamura was the only scoring in the game.

For Hiroshima Shinjyou, it was about the same except for their 4th round win versus Hiro. They have started to give up runs in more recent games, so perhaps there’s something there, but for Kouryou ace Hiramoto, I’m not convinced he has the stuff to slow down their offense.

Oita (1800 PDT/2100 EDT) – Oita Shougyou (Tier 3) v Meihou (Tier 2)

Meihou had a stretch back in the later 2000’s where scrappy Imamiya Kenta helped propel the team to the forefront. They’ve been competitive since then, but not as much. Oita Shougyou broke a 15 year drought back in 2013, but have not necessarily turned it into more appearances. They get a chance to do that here.

Both teams have pretty much obliterated the competition meaning that something will have to give. Oita Shougyou’s pitchers have at least shown the ability to strike out batters, which might give the team an slight buffer over Meihou because I will take an advantage on the mound when faced with lack of information.

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/23) – Finals and champs!

Well, mother nature didn’t exactly play nice as 4 of the 11 finals were rained out. But that still meant 7 champions were crowned.

Tickets Punched

Minami Hokkaido – Hokkai (38th appearance, 3rd consecutive)

The game yesterday seemed a bit like the Mariners game I watched yesterday. Toukaidai Sapporo jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, and watched as Hokkai slowly brought back the margin inning after inning, tying the game in the 6th. In games like this the team who loses the lead needs to regain it sooner rather than later because as the innings tick on, the momentum swings permanently to the other side.

And that’s what happened in the 9th as reliever (RF) Tama delivered a base hit to give his team the 6-5 lead. He’d close out the game and Hokkai once again heads to Natsu Koushien.

Tochigi – Sakushin Gakuin (13th appearance, 7th consecutive)

This went non-competitive quickly. 3 runs in the 2nd and 3rd innings, and 4 more in the 4th made it 10-0 and a cake walk. Didn’t matter who Kokugakuin Tochigi put on the mound, it didn’t help. They eventually called off the horses at 15-0, winning 15-1.

Yamanashi – Yamanashi Gakuin (7th appearance, 2nd consecutive)

Here, Toukaidai Koufu made it interesting, leading 1-0 up right until the break when Yamanashi Gakuin scored 3. After that, it was all downhill. What was 1-0 became 1-3, then 1-6 then 2-13. Final margin was 14-3 in favor of Yamanashi Gakuin.

Kagawa – Sanbonmatsu (3rd appearance, 1st in 12 years)

The game was close early as the teams felt each other out in this key matchup. But a 4 spot by Sanbonmatsu in before the break seemed to decisively put the game in their favor. I can’t tell you why, but I see the kanji in their name and it seems to stand out, maybe it’s the name. But because of it I knew they had been toiling in Kagawa for so long being good but not good enough. They certainly had an easier schedule, this time around, but sometimes you need the breaks to come your way.

Saga – Waseda Saga (1st appearance)

Well, I suppose for Waseda and Waseda Gakuin it was going to be hard to make 2 Waseda schools go to Koushien. But Waseda Saga in just its 8th year of existence, takes the title in a 6-1 win. Not completely dominating, as the duo of Anzai and Morita struck out 2 batters on the day. But you can bet this will go a long way to cementing Waseda Saga in the prefecture. Which isn’t good news for anyone. And it means you’ll hear more of this in the future. Though it perhaps needs a bit of work to make it like the more famous Waseda.

Nagasaki – Hasami (3rd appearance, 1st in 16 years)

Well, it didn’t come true for my wish of Seihou to win. Hasami led 2-0 early and Seihou couldn’t find an answer so I had written them off to watch the Minami Hokkaido final. Of course that’s when I see on the twitter feed that they somehow had found a way to tie the game in the 9th! I was so excited to turn the game back…

…only to find that Kawaguchi for Hasami had hit a 2-run HR in the 10th to make it 4-2, and that was basically that. They did change pitchers in the bottom half, but otherwise it was basically an easy closeout for the title.

Miyazaki – Seishin (St.) Urusla (2nd appearance, 1st in 12 years)

Well, it was all St. Ursula right from the get-go with 3 runs in the opening frame. With ace Togou limiting them to 4 hits, with 9 Ks there was little Hyuuga Gakuin could do to answer which meant an open and shut case for the eventual champs.

Finals contested

Well, today was going to be more of a quiet day, but with 4 finals rained out, it’ll be a busy Monday. 5 title games will be played, with the 4 rainouts and now Kumamoto. The notes on the other 4 can be found in yesterday’s post.

Kumamoto – Shuugakukan v Kyushu Gakuin

Absent from the Shuugakukan semifinal was Kajisha-kantoku who I found out later was hospitalized due to fatigue which later was found to be due to heart arrhythmia. Now, I know that I’ve been hard on the guy for his poor managing of a dream pitching staff, but you don’t wish anything bad for the guy. He’s sidelined for at least a week which means assistant manager Yamaguchi Koichi takes over duties.

And it was more than just business as usual as despite a shaky 1st inning from Kawabata, the duo of him and Taura pitch a 2-hit shutout of Yatsushiro, winning 7-0 in 8 innings. Oy.

As for the other semifinal, Buntoku and Kyushu Gakuin traded blows throughout the match, but it was 5 runs for Kyushu Gakuin against a tiring Matsuoka that sealed the deal. With that 10-8 performance though I do wonder if they have any chance because Shuugakukan is hitting it’s stride at the complete wrong time for them.

99th Natsu Koushien Tier List

PSA: This post is stickied 

So as teams qualify I’ll keep track here what tiers I consider these teams to be in. For purposes of this exercise, the tiers are as follows:

  • Tier 1 – Perennially in contention for Koushien
  • Tier 2 – Can be considered one of the lesser favorites perennially, will make periodic appearances
  • Tier 3 – Above-average team, constantly bumping into and losing to the upper tier teams, may occasionally breakthrough.

So without further ado:

Tier 1

  • Minami Hokkaido – Hokkai (38th appearance, 3rd consecutive)
  • Iwate – Moriokadai Fuzoku (10th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
  • Fukushima – Seikou Gakuin (14th appearance, 11th consecutive)
  • Tochigi – Sakushin Gakuin (13th appearance, 7th consecutive)
  • Chiba – Kisaradzu Sougou (6th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
  • Yamanashi – Yamanashi Gakuin (7th appearance, 2nd consecutive)
  • Hiroshima – Kouryou (22nd appearance, 1st in 3 years)
  • Kagoshima – Kamimura Gakuen (4th appearance, 1st in 5 years)

Tier 2

  • Kumamoto – Shuugakukan (3rd appearance, 2nd consecutive)
  • Oita – Meihou (6th appearance, 1st in 2 years)
  • Okinawa – Kounan (11th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

Tier 3

  • Kita Hokkaido – Takikawa Nishi (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)
  • Akita – Meiou (9th appearance, 1st in 8 years)
  • Nagano – Matsushou Gakuen (36th appearance, 1st in 9 years)
  • Kyoto – Kyoto Seishou (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)
  • Kagawa – Sanbonmatsu (3rd appearance, 1st in 24 years)
  • Saga – Waseda Saga (1st appearance)
  • Nagasaki – Hasami (3rd appearance, 1st in 16 years)
  • Miyazaki – Seishin (St.) Ursula (2nd appearance, 1st in 12 years)

Upcoming

  • Aomori – Aomori Yamada v Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei
  • Yamagata – Nichidai Yamagata v Yamagata Chuo
  • Saitama – Urawa Gakuin v Hanasaki Tokuharu
  • Ibaraki – Kasumigaura v Tsuchiura Nichidai
  • Niigata – Nihon Bunri v Chuuetsu
  • Shiga – Hikone Higashi v Oumi
  • Mie – Mie v Tsuda Gakuen
  • Kochi – Meitoku Gijyuku v Yusuhara

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update – 7/22 (Finals and champs!)

2 more tickets to Natsu Koushien were punched yesterday, with the Akita final rained out. Here’s what happened:

Prefectures Claimed

Fukushima – Seikou Gakuin (14th overall, 11th consecutive)

I wasn’t expecting much considering that Seikou Gakuin had dominated Iwaki Kouyou in recent times, and so when they went ahead 3-0 in the 4th I switched to other games because I figured they would pull away. But when I was notified by my followers on twitter that Iwaki Kouyou had come back to tie it, I figured I’d put it back on.

But throughout the game despite it being tied, it was clear that Iwaki Kaiyou was always on the back foot. They used two bench relievers to start the game, then went to their 2B and then finally their ace Ootani – which signaled to me that was their last bullet.

Iwaki Kaiyou did well to fight back yet again when Seikou scored in the 7th with one of their own in the 8th, but when they couldn’t pull ahead in the 9th, it was danger time for them.

And in fact, Ootani could not record an out in the 9th as they went walk, hit, intentional walk, single to end the game. Seikou has their closest game in the title for a while now, but survive to win their 11th consecutive title.

That’s 9 graduating classes in Fukushima that if you were not part of Seikou Gakuin, you have not seen the grand prize of Natsu Koushien.

Kita Hokkaido – Takikawa Nishi (3rd appearance, 1st in 19 years)

Shirakaba Gakuen seemed poised to take the title, outscoring their opposition 34-4 and racking up wins over last year’s champ Clark Kokusai. Meanwhile, Takikawa Nishi had racked up 3 quality wins, though narrowly against Asahikawa Jitsugyou and Asahikawadai, with a clear win versus Obihiro Ootani in the middle.

The only way this game could go Takikawa Nishi’s way was if the game was low-scoring. And it was. Shirakaba Gakuen led 1-0 early, then retook the lead shortly after Takikawa Nishi tied it up in the 6th.

The game was flying by, with the first 5 innings played in an hour, very fast for this level, and I thought Takikawa Nishi wasn’t going to have an answer.

But then in the 8th, Furukawa Yuuki drives a ball to left, and it just clears the high fence for a game tying HR! Suddenly, there was all to play for!

And when the game when into enchousen, it was possible that an upset could be in the making.

C Hosoya, who I believe hadn’t had a hit at all, hits a ball to almost the exact same place in LF and gave Takikawa Nishi the 3-2 lead! Ace Suzuki would close the game out and in an upset their school goes to Natsu Koushien for the first time in 19 years!

Finals

11 prefectures are in the finals and all are live and free (thanks Australian TV for the phrase, I love it) on Asahi, including Iwate who had been rained out yesterday.

Minami Hokkaido (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Toukaidai Sapporo v Hokkai

The two schools who have brought Hokkaido back to prominence are vying for the Minami Hokkaido title.

Neither team has been challenged throughout the process save for Hokkai’s game against Hakodatedai Yuuto where they won 2-1. They also defeated Hokushou along the way, and one would think that perhaps they have the better resume. But while they have won easily for the most part it has not been cleanly as outside of that aforementioned game they have given up at least 4 runs. If Toukaidai Sapporo can keep the game low scoring, they might stand a better chance.

Iwate (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Moriokadai Fuzoku v Kuji

See the review of the game on yesterday’s post.

Yamagata (2100 PDT/0000 EDT) – Nichidai Yamagata v Yamagata Chuo

Two powerhouses and two teams who went far in their last outings at Natsu Koushien are looking to make a return trip. Nichidai Yamagata lost in the semifinals to eventual champions Maebashi Ikuei back in 2013 while Yamagata Chuo missed out on a Best 8 appearance with an 8-3 loss to Kendai Takasaki in 2014.

Nichidai Yamagata is coming off a 9th inning 5-4 win over fellow powerhouse Sakata Minami while Yamagata Chuo blew out Yamagata Jyouhoku 16-2. It’s another case of offense versus pitching as Nichidai Yamagata has the arms, and Yamagata Chuo has the bats. Look for each team to try and take control early.

Tochigi – Kokugakuin Tochigi v Sakushin Gakuin (1800 PDT/2100 EDT)

The 10-year plan of Sakushin Gakuin’s Kobari-kantoku has come to fruition. It almost came 5 years ahead of schedule when they reached the semifinals back in 2011, but last year was the year.

But he’s not resting on his laurels as his team is poised to make it’s 7th consecutive appearance at Natsu Koushien. They cruised along the qualifying process until the semifinals where Tier 3 school Seiran Taito pushed them to the limit in a 3-2 victory.

Looking to spoil the party is another Tier 3 school, Kokugakuin Tochigi. Have have passed the tests given to them, defeating Sano Nichidai and Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku, though in back and forth affairs. They’ll hope that experience will help them deal with the defending champs instead of proving that they aren’t in the same league.

Yamanashi – Yamanashi Gakuin v Toukaidai Koufu (1800 PDT/2100 EDT)

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO~~~~

Excuse me while I scream because once again Nihon Koukuu fails to make the finals. Instead it’s a rematch of last year’s finals between Yamanashi Gakuin and Toukaidai Koufu. In fact, this will be the 3rd straight year that these two teams have met in Natsu qualifying.

Yamanashi Gakuin has had to face the tougher road, playing Nichidai Meisei and Nihon Koukuu. All their games have been close and low scoring. That compared to Toukaidai Koufu who has played no one of note and won comfortably. They’ll have revenge on their minds today.

Niigata – Nihon Bunri v Chuuetsu (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

No surprises here. The 2 teams that have represented the prefecure for 6 of the last 8 years are here in the finals. Lately it has been Chuuetsu who has taken the flag for Niigata, but perhaps it was while Nihon Bunri was rebuilding from that run in 2014 when they came 1 base hit away from tying the game against Chuukyoudai Chuukyou.

Neither team has been challenged and neither team has shown weakness per se as the rounds have proceeded, but they also haven’t really played anyone of note either. It’ll be contested for sure as Nihon Bunri looks to seat itself back at the top of the prefecture.

Nagano – Matsushou Gakuen v Saku Chousei (1800 PDT/2100 EDT)

Another team looks to make a return trip to Koushien in Saku Chousei. After a couple of close games, they blew out Toukaidai Suwa 12-0 to be on the precipice of a growing list of schools who are looking for a repeat bid.

Standing in the way is a team who dominated Nagano in the 90’s and 00’s, Matsushou Gakuen. They get to the finals having mercy-ruled a Iwamurada squad who made a great run as a no-seed, but whose time was definitely up. But while they had their time in the sun, they have to prove that they belong back in the ranks of Tier 2 and perhaps Tier 1 schools in Nagano yet again. A victory here may put them well on their way to doing so.

Kagawa – Sanbonmatsu v Marugame Jyousai (2030 PDT/2330 EDT)

Finally! Here in Kagawa we have two Tier 3 schools who are looking for their first Koushien appearance since 2005! Sanbonmatsu reprsented the Shikoku region at Haru Koushien while Marugame Jyousai was the Natsu representative that same year.

Sanbonmatsu broke the hearts of Ootemae Takamatsu, who themselves were looking for their first ever appearance, with a 5-run 8th inning. They fought back, but lost 6-5. Marugame Jyousai had an easier time of things with their in-city counterpart, defeating Marugame 6-3.

Both teams have quality wins, both teams would really like to finally get back to Koushien. Expect a lot of pressure between the two teams to get it done.

Saga – Waseda Saga v Tosu (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

Waseda Saga, in their 4th year of existence, almost went to both Natsu Koushien and Haru Koushien but fell just 1 game short. One thought that the Waseda name meant that they had quickly established themselves as a powerhouse in Saga. But it wasn’t quite the case as they needed to rebuild after the 2013 campaign. But they’re back again in 2017 and looked like a Touyoudai Himeji team, with low scoring wins – that was until they were involved in a barnburner with no-seed Saga Kougyou winning 9-7.

Tosu is no stranger to Koushien (they’ve been to Natsu Koushien twice), but they’re not exactly a Tier 3 school either. They’re certainly above average for the most part, but their cycle of ups and downs isn’t quite high enough to make them contenders. They get a chance here against Waseda Saga, but perhaps they’re further along in the process than Tosu is.

Nagasaki – Seihou v Hasami (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

Seihou, along with Tenri and Narashino was a school that grabbed my attention. And all because of their ace in the 2009 Haru Koushien title run – now closer for the Hiroshima Carp – Imamura Takeru.

Quick quiz – do you know who they beat in the title game, the score, and the ace for that team? Answer at the end of this game review.

But since then they’ve fallen into anonymity, continually getting seeded in the brackets, but never delivering. When they held on to win late against Nagasaki Nichidai 6-4 in the semifinals, they gained a chance to bring the team back.

Hasami was another Tier 3 school until they finally broke through in 2011 to reach the Haru Koushien. But since then they too have suffered a fate similar to Seihou being one of the better teams, but not good enough to beat the powerhouses of the prefecture. They too have a win over powerhouse Souseikan this run to pad their resume.

It’s another desperate game between two teams whose Koushien dreams might finally be realized. Personally I want Seihou back.

Oh, the answer to the question?

Imamura defeated Hanamaki Higashi 1-0. The ace for Hanamaki Higashi? Kikuchi Yuusei.

Miyazaki – Seishin (St.) Urusla v Hyuuga Gakuin (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

The last final is again 2 teams who have not seen the field of Koushien in a while.

I’m always drawn to schools with non-kanji names. Not that I prefer them, but just that I wonder how they do when it’s not a traditional Japanese name. Obviously Seishin Ursula (or St. Ursula as it’s translated) is a catholic school so it obviously doesn’t attract all the talent from the prefecture. Still it has managed to carve out a Tier 3 existence, regularly reaching the quartefinals or better, but just not breaking through outside of 2005 where they drew the eventual two-time champion Komadai Tomakomai. Their 5-2 win over Miyazaki Nichidai is another feather in their cap towards their run.

Hyuuga Gakuin is resurging as a Tier 3 school after a span from Aki 2011 to Aki 2015 where they won just 1 game. But this time around, they have defeated last year’s champs Nichinan Gakuen and former quarterfinalist Miyakonojyou Shougyou.

This could be another must-see game to round out the day.

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/21) – Semifinals and later

More updates! Any prefecture who has not advanced from yesterday’s update not mentioned (for obvious reasons).

Championship Games (All live on Asahi)

Kita Hokkaido – Shirakaba Gakuen v Takikawa Nishi (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

Shirakaba Gakuen makes the finals though they gave up 2 runs in the 1st and are on the precipice of being the champions. Standing in their way is Takikawa Nishi who limited Asahikawadai to just 3 hits in a 3-1 win. I’d root for Takikawa Nishi, and the games against Asahikawa Jitsugyou and Asahikawadai help, but they’re still understandably the underdogs.

Iwate – Moriokadai Fuzoku v Kuji (2100 PDT/0000 EDT)

Moriokadai Fuzoku basically has one hand on the crown and just needs to put it on their heads. Morioka Dai-yon gave them some resistance early, but crumbled post-break.

Kuji won a back-and-forth affair with Oofunato Higashi 6-4 and will try to mount the last stand against the defending champions. But it seems mostly in vain.

Fukushima – Seikou Gakuin v Iwaki Kouyou (1900 PDT/2200 EDT)

Same story, different prefecture. They schedule the game early to get it out of the way. Just kidding. But not really.

Seikou Gakuin is about to win the prefecture for the 11th straight year. That will be 9 graduating classes now that have failed to see Natsu Koushien. Oy.

Iwaki Kouyou will try to stop it but if you look at recent history, they might as well fold:

  • Haru 2017 – lost 3-18 in Fukushima final
  • Aki 2015 – lost 4-8 in Fukushima semi-final
  • Haru 2015 – lost 0-3 in Fukushima final
  • Natsu 2014 – lost 0-4 in Fukushima semi-final
  • Haru 2014 – lost 0-4 in Fukushima semi-final
  • Aki 2013 – lost 1-5 in Fukushima 2nd round

Yikes. Someone needs to beat Seikou Gakuin, but I’m not sure this team is it.

Semifinals

Oita (not playing today)

Again major players litter the scene with one underdog to try and spoil the party:

  • Oita Shougyou v Yanagigaura
  • Meihou v Oita Maidzuru

Oita Shougyou looks to make their first trip in 4 years. Slow start in 1-0 win over Nakatsu Higashi, but otherwise breezed through no-names. Yanagigaura has been a solid school, but had not gone to Natsu Koushien since 2003. They eliminated last year’s champs Oita 7-3 in the quarterfinals.

Meihou’s been flashing the bats, scoring double digits every game, but not facing anyone noteworthy. Offense by itself can still play though so they could have some leeway in that respect. Plus they get to play the David in the group, Oita Maidzuru, who beat 2008 champ Hita Rinkou.

The weird bit is that from their loss in the 2nd round of natsu qualifying 2014 to their first game in the haru taikai in 2016 they could not win a game. Since then they put in at least 2 wins in each competition and now have won 4 straight to get to the semifinals.

Well, usually when a team pops up, it’s the ace that gets them there. Oita Maidzuru’s ace is Masukawa Kazuma (益川 和馬). No videos, just that article. Southpaw, has a curve, slider and changeup. Took over the ace position in his freshman year, which explains their quick rise to prominence. If he pitched in all games, his losses were:

  • Natsu 2016 – 2-7 to Oita in 3rd round
  • Aki 2016 – 0-2 to Kitsuki in Oita quarterfinals
  • Spring 2017 – 3-4 loss to Oita in Oita quarterfinals

It may not be that hard to imagine them making it, but they still have the brand names to play.

Kumamoto (not playing today)

A couple of lower tiered teams still in play here, and by couple, I mean 2:

  • Shuugakukan v Yatsushiro
  • Buntoku v Kyushu Gakuin

Shuugakukan is trying to get to their 4th straight calendar Koushien appearance despite the presence of Kajisha-kantoku. With only a 2-headed monster on the mound instead of 4 they have reached the finals again, but barely beat Chiharadai 4-2 in the 2nd round and then trailed Kumamoto Kokufu 4-1 going into the bottom of the 6th before they scored 8 unanswered runs. Their position is not as dominant as it was, but it’s been enough… so far.

Yatsushiro has come on in 2017 defeating Seiseikou twice, and Senshuudai Tamana in the Haru taikai. Their only loss so far was a 5-3 loss to Buntoku. Their ace is Ogata Sorato (緒方 空澄), but there is no information on him.

Meanwhile the aforementioned Buntoku, who blanked Taragi 5-0 in the quarterfinals gets to play 2015 champ Kyushu Gakuin, who has not played anyone significant but stumbled a bit in their 6-4 win over Minamata in the 2nd round.

Natsu Koushien Qualifying Update (7/20) – Semifinals

This post will cover prefectures in semifinal stages or later. There are a lot, and I apologize because I had another responsibility over the past calendar week which prevented me from updating.

Okinawa (completed) – Kounan (11th appearance, 1st in 2 years)

Well, the dream was good while it lasted. There was hope that the potential finalist of either Yaeyama Nourin or Mirai Kouka could compete against Kounan or Itoman.

That team would be Mirai Kouka, who won via mercy rule 8-0 in 7 innings. Their opponent would be Kounan who squeaked by with a 2-0 win themselves.

But the final was anything but close. 2 runs in the 1st, 5 in the 2nd and 6 in the 3rd and it was over. 15-1 and Kounan is the first team to Koushien.

Kagoshima – Kamimura Gakuen (4th appearance, 1st in 5 years)

Kagoshima was in the round of 16 last we checked and in looking at the brackets, the powerhouses all marched to the Best 4… with 1 exception.

The prefectural namesake, Kagoshima, had gone and not only come back from behind with 5 unanswered runs in the last 2 innings to defeat Kagoshima Jitsugyou 7-6, but then went in a back-and-forth affair with Kanoya Chuo to walkoff 10-9 in 12 innings to reach the final. Standing in their way was Kamimura Gakuen who themselves had an extra inning win against fellow powerhouse Shounan.

Both teams had a reprieve when the scheduled final day of the 19th was rained out. And on that final, Kagoshima held in there, and actually took a 2-1 lead in the 6th.

But in the bottom of the 8th, with just 6 outs to go, the famed curse of the powerhouse strikes. What was just a baserunner or two led to the tying run. And then with the bases loaded, a ball was struck to the right center field gap for a bases clearing triple. Kagoshima falls short as Kamimura Gakuen takes the title 5-2.

Kita Hokkaido (playing today – not live)

Well, the path has been blown wide open of one of the powerhouses as Shirakaba Gakuen has easily blown through Clark Kokusai and Abashiri Minamigaoka to reach the Best 4. With the exception of the regional final against Obihiro Hakuyou winning 1-0 they have not been challenged.

The other 3 teams have not been to Koushien since either the 2000’s, 1990’s or the 1980’s.

Shirakaba’s next opponent is Asahikawa Ryuukoku who was slightly challenged in regional play but not so far in prefectural play. However, they have not played anyone significant and Shirakaba Gakuen will be the biggest opponent they will have to face.

On the other semifinal is Asahikawadai, who rallied from down 3-0 and then from 5-3 to Bushuukan, all in the late innings to force enchousen. They won 6-5 in 13, but while Bushuukan is one of the better schools, this close affair could diminish their chances. Finally, there’s Takikawa Nishi, who in the first round upset Asahikawa Jitsugyou 2-1 in the 11th, scoring 2 runs after Asahikawa Jitsugyou scored 1 in the top half.

Minami Hokkaido (not playing today)

The Best 4 is a mix of schools who have brought Hokkaido back to prominence and those looking for their first bid.

  • Toukaidai Sapporo (fka Toukai Dai-yon) v Hakodate Kougyou

Toukaidai Sapporo, who long suffered under the status of a Tier 3 school, not only broke through in 2015, but made it to the finals of Haru Koushien where they lost the game late 3-1 to Tsuruga Kehi. Well, they’re back here in the semifinals, outscoring their opponents 35-5. But none of the opponents are of note really, so perhaps they’re getting a free pass.

Hakodate Kougyou had not had as easy of a ride, but can put to their name a 3-1 win over Sapporo Nichidai in the quarterfinals. They have not been to Koushien since 1963, so they will have to fight the curse of the powerhouses.

  • Hokkai v Sapporo Ootani

Hokkai is looking to repeat, and improve on last year’s performance where they reached the Natsu Koushien final, but lost 7-1 to Sakushin Gakuin, who looked unstoppable. Regional play was non-competitive, but they have gone on to mercy-rule Hokushou 11-4, and then squeaked by Hakodatedai Yuuto 2-1.

Sapporo Ootani is in the way, a team who has never reach Koushien at all. They had mercy rule wins over no-name competition until the quarterfinals where they held on to defeat Tanaka Masahiro’s alma mater Komadai Tomakomai 2-1. Defeating the Natsu Koushien runner-up is a much, much bigger ask.

Akita (not playing today)

The prefecture is looking for any signs of life at Koushien, and the team to do it will be a team who has represented themselves once over the past decade, to little success…

  • Meiou v Oomagairi Kougyou

Meiou if memory serves me correctly had a famous Koushien game where they gave up a walk-off… walk to lose their game. they’ve since tried to return, but have always been tripped up. They make it to the semifinal stage, but having faced no one of note, and barely winning 3-2 over Akita Chuo.

Their next opponent is last year’s representative Oomagari Kougyou who themselves have not been tested by any of the other powerhouses, but at least can say they were last year’s winner.

  • Kanaashi Nougyou v Akita

Kanaashi Nougyou has been one of the above-average teams in the prefecture, but flirted with Tier 3 status at best. But like the other teams previewed, have not played anyone of note.

That honor goes to Akita, who has played highly contested games against both Akita Shougyou and Noshiro Shouyou over the last two games to get to this point. They have the resume that stands out at this point to be the front-runner to the title.

Iwate (playing today – live on Asahi 1800 PDT/2100 EDT)

Well, it looks like it could be another familiar face representing the prefecture, especially with Hanamaki Higashi out before the round of 16.

  • Moriokadai Fuzoku v Morioka Dai-yon

Moriokadai Fuzoku, who has represented the prefecture 3 of the last 5 years and was last year’s representative has not been really challenged, and did record a 7-0 win against Ichinoseki Gakuin, though their status as powerhouse has declined to Tier 3 status over the years.

Morioka Dai-yon however is a Tier 3 school, who has consistently reached the highest stages, but without ever reaching Koushien. They are here again in the Best 4, but not facing any significant competition and beating no-seed Mizusawa Kougyou 3-2 in the past round.

  • Oofunato Higashi v Kuji

Of the two schools, only Kuji has been to Koushien before, but that was back in 1979. Both schools have been performing well as of late, but neither has faced named competition and both were challenged in their last game. One of these teams will get a chance for the title, but the odds seem in favor of the winner of the other game.

Yamagata (not playing today)

More familiar names in the Best 4 here, with 1 looking to crash the party…

  • Nichidai Yamagata v Sakata Minami
  • Yamagata Chuo v Yamagata Jyouhoku

3 of the schools have represented the prefecture 13 times since 2000. Sakata Minami (8), Nichidai Yamagata (3), and Yamagata Chuo (2) though none have represented the prefecture since 2014.

Yamagata Chuo has the better resume, having mercy-ruled Tsuruoka Higashi and Tier 3 Haguro while Nichidai Yamagata has been the least troubled of the 3 schools.

Yamagata Jyouhoku is a marginal Tier 3 school, certainly considered above average in the prefecture but not really challenging the top schools. Their road has been easy in terms of competition, but have at least dispatched all opponents without issue. It goes without saying their road gets much more difficult from here.

Fukushima (playing today – live on Asahi 1800 PDT/2100 EDT)

Fukushima is Seikou Gakuin’s to lose at this point.

  • Seikou Gakuin v Nichidai Tohoku
  • Fukushima Shougyou v Iwaki Kouyou

The 10-year consecutive winner may only have this last hurdle to go as last year at this stage they defeated the same Nichidai Tohoku squad 7-3. Do it again and they may have their ticket waiting for them. Neiher Fukushima Shougyou or Iwaki Kougyou have defeated Seikou Gakuin have defeated Seikou Gakuin in the past 10 years in any competition so the ask is pretty great.

Tochigi (not playing today)

The same might be argued for Sakushin Gakuin here in Tochigi as well though the competition at least has a better argument.

  • Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku v Kokugakuin Tochigi
  • Seiran Taito v Sakushin Gakuin

All 3 remaining schools have recorded a win against Sakushin Gakuin, though most during the spring taikais which are less important. 2 of the 3 can at least have a resume building win so far – Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku (4-3 over Hakuoudai Ashikaga), and Kokugakuin Tochigi (7-5 over Sano Nichidai).

But asking to defeat a Sakushin Gakuin squad who has actually given up less runs as the tournament has gone along… might be a bit too much of an ask.

Yamanashi (not playing today)

It has gone all scratch in Yamanashi with all top seeds reaching the Best 4

  • Yamanashi Gakuin v Nihon Koukuu
  • Sundai Koufu v Toukaidai Koufu

The defending champs actually have looked the weakest, barely getting by Nichidai Meisei in the 3rd round and them coming from behind to defeat Koufu Kougyou 5-4 in the quarterfinals. It was at this stage last year they mercy-ruled Nihon Koukuu and have the chance to do it again. For their part Nihon Koukuu has looked better compared to last year, but the elephant in the room will be there until it’s not.

Yamanashi Gakuin could also face Toukaidai Koufu in the finals as well if they can beat Sundai Koufu, who themselves are looking for their first ever berth. But a 7-4 win over Fuefuki, combined with a 43-2 score for Toukaidai Koufu versus their opponents is not a good sign.

It could be the “different year, same story” once again here in Yamanashi.

Nagano (not playing today)

Nagano has been kind enough to put the games on live from the opening round. While the games have been interesting to watch, we could be in store for another repeat winner.

  • Matsushou Gakuen v Iwamurada
  • Saku Chousei v Toukaidai Suwa

Saku Chousei is looking for a repeat title like others covered so far. But there have been some signs of cracks in their run, including a 1-0 win over Matsumoto Kougyou in the 3rd round, and a fading late against Ueda Nishi, giving up 3 runs in the 9th to make it a close 5-3 win.

Toukaida Suwa seems to be on one of those upswings, but have had 2 close games against unnamed opposition. Saku Chousei is certainly not that.

Matsushou Gakuen has been trying to rise back up to prominence but seems to trip themselves up in recent times. This might be the year they contend though, having mercy-ruled Nagano Nichidai earlier, and beat Komoro Shougyou 5-4 in the quarterfinals. They get an Iwamurada squad looking for their first ever title, but have had to come back from down 9-3 against Matsumoto Agatagaoka in the 4th round, and then 2-1 over Matsumoto Fukashi. No easy games from here on out though.

Niigata (not playing today)

More of the same story in Niigata. Couple of familiar faces, some not so much.

  • Nihon Bunri v Hokuetsu
  • Takada Kitashiro v Chuuetsu

Chuuetsu and Nihon Bunri are the two mainstays, winning their games by a margin of 72-8. They could be on a collision course in the final.

Hokuetsu has been a solid Tier 3 school, and find themselves on the brink again. But the road has not been smooth by any means, including a 4th round 1-0 win over Sekine Gakuen who just missed 2 years ago, and a 13-6 win over Tokyo Gakkan Niigata.

Takada Kitashiro has not had much success at all over the past decade, but has appeared out of nowhere to reach the best 4, including a come-from behind 8-7 win in 12 over Nagaoka Kougyou in the quarterfinals. They have not played any named competition, so it’s an uphill battle to be sure.

Kagawa (not playing today)

While we have some teams who have been to Koushien before, only one of them has been there in recent years, but we will have a relatively new champion.

  • Sanbonmatsu v Ootemae Takamasu
  • Marugame Jyousai v Marugame

While it’s been since 1993 that Sanbonmatsu has made it to Natsu Koushien, they are by far one of the best Tier 3 schools in Kagawa. Their key win was a 7-6 win over Takamatsu Shougyou in the quaterfinals. Ootemae Takamatsu has never been to Koushien and yet has also been a Tier 3 school in recent years and also had a 7-6 win over Kagawa Nishi in the quarterfinals. Both will want to make use of the opportunity this year with the main players missing.

The other semifinal is an all-Marugame affair. Marugame Jyousai eliminated last year’s champion Jinsei Gakuen 4-3 and is looking for their fist Natsu appearance since 2005. Marugame is the most recent team to appear, having gone in 2013. They had a tough first round matchup with fellow powerhouse Eimei, and had to come back from down 5-3 late to win 6-5.

Saga (not playing today)

Saga is completely up for grabs as many of the powerhouses are gone. That isn’t to say though that some prominent teams aren’t still around though.

  • Waseda Saga v Saga Kougyou
  • Tosu v Kashima

When I saw Waseda opened a school in the prefecture, my first thought was “Well, there goes the neighborhood”. And while they haven’t totally taken over the prefecture they certainly rose really quickly. And here they are in the Best 4 in Saga with perhaps their best chance to take the title. They have only given up just 1 run so far, and blanked Saga Kita 3-0 in the quarterfinals.

Saga Kougyou is looking for their first title since 1987, and had a 1-0 win over Saga Gakuen, but having to meetup with Waseda Saga isn’t the best of draws.

Tosu hasn’t been to Koushien since 2002, but also has put up a quality win over last year’s winner Karatsu Shougyou coming back from down 3-1 in the 9th to win 5-3.

Kashima is the only outlier here, not having faced any competition so far, band been in 3 close games. They got the right end of the stick, but it will change should they make the finals.

Nagasaki (not playing today)

Another case of a David in a pack of Goliaths.

  • Nagasaki Nichidai v Seihou
  • Keihou v Hasami

Nagasaki Nichidai had their day in the sun back in 2007 when they almost made the finals, but lost out to Kikuchi Yuusei and Hanamaki Higashi in the semis. Outside of a 5-3 game in the opener versus Nagasaki Kougyou, they have breezed through.

But of all the 4 teams, only Keihou and Hasami have been tested against prominent teams. Keihou beat Isahaya 3-1 in the 3rd round, while Hasami held on against Souseikan 5-4.

I’d root for Keihou, but Seihou was home to the first player I followed in 高校野球, which was Imamura Takeru, now closer of the Hiroshima Carp.

Miyazaki (not playing today)

Well, we will have a new champion in Miyazaki, but the name might be a familiar one:

  • Miyazaki Nichidai v St. Ursula
  • Miyakonojyou Shougyou v Hyuuga Gakuin

The one team that doesn’t quite fit is Hyuuga Gakuin. They made 1 Haru and 1 Natsu appearance back in the 1980’s but have sort of dropped out of view since then. They’re back, and they made their presence felt defeating last year’s champs Nichinan Gakuen 6-5 in the 3rd round. They blew a 5-1 lead, but still walked them off 6-5. They are facing a Miyakonojyou Shougyou squad who has not been challenged and should they make Koushien could be one to watch out for. Their 2 other appearances they made the Best 8.

Miyazaki Nichidai has not been challenged, but has not looked dominating either, they are facing a hungry St. Ursula squad who have been a perennial Tier 3 school and whose only appearance came back in Natsu 2005. They have an 8-4 win against Nisshou Gakuen in the 3rd round, but otherwise have not faced any notable competition.