MISSION — La Joya Palmview’s Chris Chapa saw his freshman season taken away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entering his sophomore year, he was determined to get on the field, become a contributor for the Lobos and make up for the lost time.

Chapa, The Monitor’s 2021 All-Area Baseball Newcomer of the Year, earned the starting job at second base, finished with a team-high 19 RBIs and tied for second on the team with 21 hits.

“Since a lot of seniors left after the 2020 season, I just wanted to be able to fill that spot at second and play to the best of my abilities,” he said. “I didn’t really expect myself to do that. I just wanted to play as best as I could and whatever happened, happened, and I was able to come out with those type of numbers.”

Palmview head coach Manuel Garcia and staff spoke to each player about their expectations at the beginning of the year. After their conversation, they felt Chapa could handle the pressure of starting at second base.

“He’s a hard working kid. He takes everything seriously at practice, as far as batting and defensively,” Garcia said. “He’s one of those types of athletes that wants more.”

Chapa drew motivation from his first start, which was far from ideal, in his own words.

In Palmview’s first game of the season and Chapa’s varsity debut against Brownsville Rivera, he struggled with a pair of fielding errors. Chapa didn’t let it get him down, however.

“It drove me. I told myself, ‘Just play your game. Play the game you know how to play, and have fun playing it,’” he said. “I started building my confidence up and figured I can play. I can do this.”

Chapa finished the year with a .438 batting average and a .979 fielding percentage. He helped the Lobos post a 13-4-1 overall record and go 8-2 in district, good enough for District 30-5A’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

The arrow is pointing up for Palmview moving forward as it loses just two seniors to graduation. The Lobos will return 15 lettermen next year, including a group of 11 sophomores, led by Chapa.

After receiving their first taste of playoff baseball in 2021, Chapa said Palmview’s returners are eager to get back in the postseason and bring home some wins.

“We have a lot of guys coming back and we have a lot of talent. I feel good about these next two years, making it to the playoffs and making it far,” he said.

[email protected]