NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week are James Pizzuti of El Dorado (Placerville) & Staci Chambers from Granite Hills (El Cajon). Photos: &

Our two NorCal honorees were picked before they played their first game this week and both Madison Papenhausen from San Marin of Novato and James Pizzuti from El Dorado of Placerville remained on fire as Papenhausen had a no-hitter and Pizzuti drove in five runs. This week’s two SoCal honorees, meanwhile, are from Verdugo Hills and El Cajon.

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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

Photo: Courtesy School.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Charlie Rocca
(Verdugo Hills, Tujunga) Sr.

There’s a showdown game for the East Valley League title in the CIF L.A. City Section on Wednesday between Verdugo Hills and Poly of Sun Valley and we wanted to get out this week’s post at least a few hours beforehand.

Rocca has been a standout for the Dons for the past two seasons and homered in both of his games last week to give him 13 for the season (reportedly No. 1 in the state according to MaxPreps) and 24 for his career (which with a few more will put him in the state record book). Rocca went 2-for-3 with a homer, double and three RBI last week in a 6-1 triumph over Arleta. He was 1-for-2 with three runs scored, one homer and two RBI in a 13-3 win against Monroe of Sepulveda.

Charlie’s top outing for the season was going 4-for-5 with two homers and nine RBI in a 15-5 victory vs. North Hollywood. He also homered twice in his first game, but that was in a 11-10 loss to Marshall of Los Angeles.

For the season, Rocca began this week with a .522 average and 39 RBI to go with his 13 homers. Last year as a junior, the talented shortstop batted .511 with nine homers and 41 RBI

“Charlie is putting together his second consecutive remarkable season,” said Verdugo Hills head coach Angel Espindola in nominating Charlie for both player of the week and for this year’s all-state team. “He’s also a two-sport athlete in football and baseball.”

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Staci Chambers
(Granite Hills, El Cajon) Soph.

We go to the shadows of massive granite peak El Capitan in the East County area of the CIF San Diego Section for our SoCal softball pitching and slugging honoree who has been getting it done in the circle and with bat in hand as well.

Last week, Chambers had some big numbers that helped get the Eagles to 22-6 and 6-0 in the Grossmont Hills League and on a 15-game winning streak. She started the week resting her arm and playing first base but hit her seventh home run and had two RBI and a run scored in a 5-3 win over San Diego Point Loma.

She took the circle against Steele Canyon and tossed a four-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 5-0 shutout where she also was 2-for-3 in the batter’s box. Chambers followed that up with a six-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 6-2 win over West Hills of Santee. Like the previous two games, she was 2-for-3 at the plate as well.

So far this season, the Cal State Fullerton commit is 15-3 with a 1.12 ERA and 142 strikeouts in a 124.2 innings pitched, and opposing batters are hitting a paltry .162 against her. Chambers lost a tough 11-inning 2-1 decision to state No. 1 Cathedral Catholic where she went the whole way and gave up eight hits with six strikeouts.

As a batter Chambers leads the team in home runs with the seven, RBI with 25, and she’s third with a .419 batting average. She was the East County Sports Player of the Week two weeks ago and this week she’s tops for all of Southern California.

Photo: Harold Abend.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Madison Papenhausen
(San Marin, Novato) Soph.

Our NorCal softball honoree is from the North Bay/Redwood Empire portion of the CIF North Coast Section, and a town around 30 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

For this right-handed fire-baller who’s committed to Utah, the bottom line is when Papenhausen is in the house don’t expect to be able to fire much more than blanks, because Maddie has produced a lot of zeros against her including helping the Mustangs to a 19-0 start and recognition as one of the top teams in the NCS and by far the top team in the Redwood Empire.

After winning the NCS Division III title last year, San Marin was moved up to Division II due to the section’s competitive equity formula where it was in a fight for the top seed in the upcoming playoffs with a very solid Concord team. All Papenhausen did last week against Concord in a non-league battle that essentially determined the NCS D2 top spot was toss a two-hitter with 17 strikeouts in a 4-1 victory.

With the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan in attendance three days later, Papenhausen didn’t have her best stuff against San Rafael, and that might have been because of a bit of a letdown after the big effort against Concord, but she had a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 14-0 mercy-shortened win in a five-inning affair. In that game, her bat produced two hits in three at-bats with two RBI and a run scored.

She has already pitched and batted this week in a 4-0 win over Tamalpais (Mill Valley) that gets the Mustangs to 15-0 in the Marin County Athletic League, and guess what she did? Papenhausen brought down the house with a no-hitter where she only walked one batter and had 11 strikeouts. She also had a hit and scored a run.

On the season, Papenhausen is 12-0 with a 0.37 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 75.2 innings pitched. She has seven shutouts and has struck out 10 or more batters eight times, including her last five complete game starts. Opposing batters are hitting .079 against her.

When Papenhausen is hitting, she batting at a .646 clip with four home runs, a triple, seven doubles, 24 RBI and 22 runs scored, and she has 31 hits in 48 at-bats and an astronomical 1.083 slugging percentage.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

James Pizzuti
(El Dorado, Placerville) Sr.

It’s 30 miles east of Sacramento on Highway 50 for our NorCal baseball award winner to a town that during the Gold Rush got the nickname of “Hangtown” and if you see the Hangman’s Tree Historic Spot in downtown Placerville you’ll know how it got its name.

As for Pizzuti, the bottom line is if you’re facing him when the right-hander is on the mound or in the batter’s box, he might hang you out to dry with his arm and his bat. And pitchers have learned not to hang any sliders to him, either.

In his first game last week, Pizzuti showed a lot of pizzazz after tossing a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 13-0 win over Galt. With aluminum in hand, he was 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. In the second game against Galt last week, he didn’t pitch but hit a home run and a double and was 2-for-2 with a walk and had three RBI and two runs scored in a 14-0 rout. He has already taken the mound this week and he got roughed up a little bit in five innings of work but still got the win in a 12-2 victory over Dixon. The Hangtown kid hung up the opposing pitcher however after blasting another home run with a double as well, and going 3-for-4 with five RBI and two runs scored.

So far this season for the 24-3 Cougars, the senior is 10-1 with a save, a 1.65 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 59.1 innings pitched. At the plate, Pizzuti has little pity on opposing pitchers and is hitting .512 with five home runs, 13 doubles, 43 RBI and 33 runs scored in 86 at-bats, and he’s only struck out three times.

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

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