LA JOYA — Another high level Rio Grande Valley high school baseball prospect is headed to the Big 12 conference.

La Joya High junior left-handed pitcher JC Gutierrez recently announced his verbal commitment to play baseball at Texas Tech, a Division I university in Lubbock.

“It felt amazing to finally verbally commit to my dream school. I’m glad all the hard work and dedication I have put into this sport has finally paid off,” Gutierrez said.

As a freshman, Gutierrez was thrown into the fire with the Coyotes, and he delivered often.

At the end of the regular season, La Joya’s playoff hopes rested on a one-game play-in matchup against rival Mission High. Although Gutierrez was in his first year, La Joya head baseball coach Mario Flores handed him the ball from the start in a do-or-die situation.

Gutierrez proceeded to allow just two hits across six innings and surrendered just one run as La Joya punched its ticket to the state playoffs with a 6-1 victory.

And before his sophomore campaign was cut short due to COVID-19, Gutierrez further cemented himself as a force to be reckoned with. In four appearances, Gutierrez recorded a 1.00 ERA and struck out 22 batters in just 14 innings as the Coyotes raced out to an early 11-3-1 overall record.

“I just don’t ever believe in giving up. I’m the type of person to keep chasing my goals until I’ve reached them. I take every game serious. Every time I step on the field I give it my 110% always,” Gutierrez said. “Baseball is the only sport I play, so it allows me to concentrate and focus on one sport, and it helps that I play year round with my travel team at a very high level.”

Gutierrez is the latest RGV baseball player with plans to head to the Big 12 as he follows some of the Valley’s best like Sharyland High alum Tres Barrera (Texas), Sharyland High alum Eric Gutierrez (Texas Tech), McAllen High alum Aaron Nixon (Texas) and Edinburg Vela alum Nico Rodriguez (Kansas State).

“I’m honored to be able to follow in their footsteps. They have had a lot of success, and God-willing I’m able to do the same,” he said.

bramos@themonitor.com