SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week are Vanessa Strong from Freedom of Oakley and Joe Magrisi from Torrey Pines of San Diego. Photos: Harold Abend & Twitter.com.


It’s easy to see that both of our honorees for baseball this week will be first team all-state pitchers at the end of the season. They’ve both been simply mowing down opposing hitters. One of our two even had a no-hitter that was his second no-hitter of the year. For softball, we are introducing a red-hot freshman hitter from the South Bay region of L.A. and went with a pitcher who’s already led her team to a section title.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email markjtennis@gmail.com.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Joe Magrisi
(Torrey Pines, San Diego) Sr.

It has been three years since Magrisi was the Cal-Hi Sports centerpiece for freshmen when we named him the State Freshman of the Year in 2015 when he was at crosstown Rancho Bernardo.

Now, in his first year at Torrey Pines after transferring and coming off injuries, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound right-handed pitcher and slugger not only is back on our radar screen as the SoCal Baseball Player of the Week award winner, he’s helped the Falcons to stake a spot on the map as Torrey Pines has cracked the State Top 20 for the first time this season in the rankings released earlier this week.

Magrisi began last week with a complete game 3-1 victory over Mission Hills of San Marcos by scattering seven hits with eight strikeouts. He followed that up by pitching the final three innings of an 11-10 victory over CIF San Diego Section No. 1 San Marcos and only gave up one hit while striking out five. He was also 2-for-5 with two RBI in the San Marcos win.

So far this season, Joe has been the antithesis of a schmo. In fact, he’s been an out and out hero. In six appearances with five starts Magrisi is an easy 5-0 with a 0.80 ERA and 44 strikeouts with a mere three walks in 35 innings pitched. Opposing batters are only hitting .131 against him.

On a final note, one of his best outings this season was in an 11-1 victory over his old school Rancho Bernardo where he tossed a 2-hitter with a season high 14 strikeouts and no walks.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Reagan Walsh
(South, Torrance) Fr.

We could have gone with pitcher Megan Faraimo of San Diego Cathedral Catholic, who mowed down the opposition en route to the tournament title of the Michelle Carew Tournament, but the UCLA-bound Faraimo gets plenty of ink and we really try to use this feature about up-and-comers and not as much on those stars who already get tons of recognition.

Walsh is just a freshman on the 15-4 Spartans but the way the shortstop plays the hole and swings the bat to the tune of leading South in every offensive stat except triples, makes her play look like that of a seasoned senior.

Last week, in a 10-3 win over San Juan Hills of San Juan Capistrano, Walsh was 2-for-3 with a home run, five RBI, a stolen base, and three runs scored. Earlier in the week, she had a hit in two at-bats in a 3-0 loss to a Gahr of Cerritos team that went on to beat state power Norco at the Carew tourney.

Two weeks ago in the final game of the Las Vegas Spring Jamboree, Walsh went deep twice and had four RBI and three runs scored in an 8-0 victory over Sierra Vista of Las Vegas.

So far this season, Walsh is hitting an even .600 with seven home runs, eight doubles, 25 RBI, 26 runs scored, and she has a 1.127 slugging percentage.

Blake Sodersten stands with the catcher who also was part of his big no-hitter last week vs. Clovis West. Photo: @CloHighBaseball Twitter.com.


Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Blake Sodersten
(Clovis) Sr.

By going to the CIF Central Section for our baseball award winner this week we get to remind readers that for our Players of the Week boys and girls from the Valley are included in Northern California. The result is we get our first nominee off the milestones list of CIFCS historian and longtime Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor Bob Barnett.

Last week, and for the second time this season, Blake left every batter in his wake, after the 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior right-hander tossed a no-hitter with six strikeouts and two bases on balls in a 4-0 victory over a Clovis West (Fresno) team coming off a win over Clovis North (Fresno) in a battle of No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Valley.

With the no-no, Sodersten set the school record for no-hitters in a season and career. His first no-hitter came in a 7-0 victory over Tulare Western in late February when he struck out 11 and walked none.

Baseball is a game of having a pitching staff, and with no disrespect to the rest of the staff of the 12-8 Cougars that mixes in some underclass players with a couple of other seniors besides Sodersten, head coach James Patrick would like to get the kind of performances Blake has given him this season from all his pitchers.

In nine appearances, Blake has been absolutely great with a 6-0 record and a 0.78 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched. Opposing batters are hitting a paltry .123 against the big fella.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Vanessa Strong
(Freedom, Oakley) Sr.

We know it’s a cliché but that’s part of the fun of the NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week, so we’ll get right to it by telling you Strong has started the season more than strong, Vanessa has been extra strength.

There are only a handful of top teams in Northern California without a blemish and at 9-0 the Falcons are one of them and a major reason has been the production in the circle and at the plate of this right-handed pitcher and slugger.

Last week at the Livermore Stampede, Strong, who recently committed to Southern Utah, was a force to be reckoned with – and that followed a sizzling performance at the Reed Tournament in Nevada.

At the Stampede, Strong opened with a five-hitter with 13 strikeouts against a young and talented California (San Ramon) in a 2-1 victory. She followed that up with a 4-hitter with six strikeouts in a 9-3 victory over a very solid Alhambra of Martinez in a game that was shortened to six innings due to time. She also blasted a 2-run home run and a 2-run single and was 2-for-4 with four runs batted in.

After pitching two games on Wednesday, head coach Brook Russo only had her go 1.2 innings against Moreau Catholic of Hayward in a 13-2 victory where Strong was 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and three runs scored.

Two weeks ago, she pitched four of the five games at the Reed Easter tournament in Sparks, Nevada and led the Falcons to the tournament title after getting wins against Reno, Atwater, James Logan of Union City in the semis, and Nevada No. 1 at the time Spanish Springs of Sparks.

So far this season, Strong is 7-0 with a 0.694 ERA and 46 strikeouts with only two walks in 40.1 innings pitched. At the plate, Vanessa is batting .375 with two home runs, five RBI and seven runs scored.

It hasn’t hurt Strong to have a strong mentor in assistant coach and the wife of Russo, and that’s 2006 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year and former Freedom pitcher and slugger Amanda Williams. As a sophomore, Strong pitched Freedom to the CIF North Coast Section Division I title and was State Sophomore of the Year.

One final Freedom shout out and that’s for Falcons’ slugger and Sonoma State-bound Makenzie Nelson. After what she’s done recently, Nelson could have been the Player of the Week. Her home run accounted for both runs in the California victory and when she blasted a grand slam against Moreau Catholic, it was her eighth home run in eight games, and the eight homers is top 10 in the state. Nelson is also hitting .524 with 21 RBI and 11 runs scored.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend


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