Nikai goes from a bench warmer to manager, which works out pretty well for everyone. The team also gets help from other teams, such as the track team to learn how to sprint. The coach also implements a new strategy called no-bunts-no-balls, meaning that the team won’t bunt and they will try to pitch strikes every pitch. Also, new recruits come in and Minami has to narrow down the list to a dozen players whom she thinks fit best on the team
I think this was a better set of episodes than the first three, since I think the characters were a bit more free thinking, and while they still whipped out the management book, it doesn’t seem like it was quite as pervasive this time. I think the thing about Niaki becoming manager was a good twist, and it seems like he’s really better suited for that position anyway, especially given what he said his ultimate goals in life were earlier in the series.
As for the help from other school clubs. I can definitely see how the track team can help, and I can at least conceive of how the judo team can help the pitchers, but the home ec club? Really? What does filling out evaluations about cupcakes accomplish? I’m still scratching my head over that one, and they never really explained it.
The no-bunts-no-balls strategy is interesting, though I think it’s somewhat flawed. I’m more OK with the “no bunts” strategy. Bunting is pointless with 2 outs, and it has limited overall success even with 1 out, so I’m not sure you’re losing much by just going ahead and batting. They were able to score against the college team because not bunting went against the expected game play. However, that advantage will be lost soon enough as other teams scout them and see that they never bunt. As long as they’re actually able to get hits, they’ll be better off overall, but that’s a big if.
I have a bigger problem with the “no strikes” part. The coach admits that it means getting a lot more hits. However, throwing balls isn’t always about getting strikeouts, though it somewhat is. It’s also about getting batters to contact balls that are easy to field. Throwing absolutely no balls seems like a strategy that allows the other team to get better contact on the ball needlessly, again, especially after they scout you and see that you never throw balls. Just like any sport, you are aided by unpredictability at times. Always throwing strikes removes a very significant portion of that unpredictability. Learning how to throw breaking balls will help, and I’m sure the anime will portray the strategy as a unmitigated success at the end, but I’d love to see someone try to implement that strategy in real life.