(same picture, again courtesy of MBS)
So the translated brackets are here. Now to look at the brackets and see who got a raw deal and who perhaps got a gift.
- Shigakukan (Aichi) v Shiritsu Kure (Hiroshima)
- Nichidai-san (Tokyo) v Riseisha (Osaka)
- Kumamoto Kougyou (Kumamoto) v Chiben Gakuen (Nara)
- Takaoka Shougyou (Toyama) v Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate)
Key Matchup: Nichidai-san v Riseisha
Inside Line to Best 4: Nichidai-san/Riseisha
Sleeper(s): Kumamoto Kougyou
There’s no getting around the fact that we have a powerhouse game on Day 1 with Nichidai-san and Riseisha. Two teams who could have contended for the title and one of them will be eliminated before the opening day is done. It’s also no secret that the winner of that game will be on the inside track to the Best 4. Because both teams will have plenty of time to scout the other, this game could be a toss-up, especially since Nichidai-san’s pitching is looked at as better than average.
For the rest of the field, there will be a scramble to go as far as possible. Shiritsu Kure doesn’t get a terrible pairing with Shigakukan as they could play down to Kure’s level, but they should advance and at least have some possibility of being a pest to Nichidai-san/Riseisha.
Chiben Gakuen begins defense of their title also on Day 1, closing out play versus Kumamoto Kougyou and that is no easy task. You could argue that Kumamoto Kougyou’s ace is the 2nd best ace in the Kyushu Region and stifle Chiben’s offense before it even gets started. Win that game, and they should reach the quarterfinals.
- Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) v Tajimi (Gifu)
- Nakamura (Kochi) v Maebashi Ikuei (Gunma)
- Soushi Gakuen (Okayama) v Fukuokadai Oohori (Fukuoka)
- Toukaidai Ichihara Bouyou (Chiba) v Shiga Gakuen (Shiga)
Key Matchup: Soushi Gakuen v Fukuokadai Oohori
Inside Line to Best 4: Fukuokadai Oohori
Sleeper(s): Maebashi Ikuei, Shiga Gakuen
On paper, Fukuokadai Oohori should be the clear front-runner to the Best 4 as they carry what I think is one of the better pitchers in the field and a more than decent offense. But being a team who has not had Koushien experience it is important that they get on the front foot, and Soushi Gakuen should provide good resistance and is the reason why this is the game to look for in Round 1.
But the thing is that in the following rounds they could meet up with other teams that could derail their express. Maebashi Ikuei if the right side of their pitching shows up could be problematic. But that’s a big if. Shiga Gakuen has decent pitching of their own, but any lack of offense means that they may never get so far to reach Fukuokadai Oohori.
- Kendai Takasaki (Gunma) v Sapporo Dai-ichi (Hokkaido)
- Fukui Koudai Fukui (Fukui) v Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi)
- Takada Shougyou (Nara) v Shuugakukan (Kumamoto)
- Sakushin Gakuin (Tochigi) v Teikyou Dai-go (Ehime)
Key Matchup: Fukui Koudai Fukui v Sendai Ikuei
Inside Line to Best 4: None
This seems like the most balanced of the 4 blocks with at least 4 teams who could claim a line to the Best 4 – Fukui Koudai Fukui, Sendai Ikuei, Shuugakukan, and Sakushin Gakuin. All 4 have above-average grades but also have their own flaws. That’s why the Fukui Koudai Fukui v Sendai Ikuei matchup is the one to look at as it’s a battle between 2 of the contenders in this block. Shuugakukan and Sakushin Gakuin should advance to play each other. And the fact that there are 4 teams looking to move on mean that it’ll be hard for the other teams to put in a word edgewise.
- Toukaidai Fukuoka (Fukuoka) v Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku (Hyogo)
- Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo) v Meitoku Gijyuku (Kochi)
- Shizuoka (Shizuoka) v Kozukata (Iwate)
- Ube Koujyou (Yamaguchi) v Osaka Touin (Osaka)
Key Matchup: Toukaidai Fukuoka v Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku
Inside Line to Best 4: None
If you’re 10-man Kozukata and you see in your block 4 super-regional champions, 2 runners-up, and oh – Osaka Touin, what the heck are you supposed to do? I mean, you probably weren’t planning on advancing realistically, but assuming you did this is like a team’s worst nightmare.
Though, that nightmare goes to Meitoku Gijyuku who has to face arguably the best offense in the field and a completely dangerous 3-4-5. But the key matchup in the region may not be that one, but instead the one who will determine the next round opponent – Toukaidai Fukuoka and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku. Meitoku Gijyuku despite the better pitching is a poor matchup because it won’t take advantage of Waseda’s poor pitching. The team that could is Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku, but first it has to clear Toukaidai Fukuoka and that’s why it’s the key matchup. Toukaidai Fukuoka could prove to be a trip-up game.
With all the top teams from the regionals in this block it’s also hard to call any one team a “sleeper” which is why I haven’t really put one down. The closest thing could in fact be Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku because despite being the runner-up out of the Kinki region they’re not considered one of the big names. So if they can beat Toukaidai Fukuoka and then possibly Waseda Jitsugyou, it could be a good run for them.