Vidalia High senior C.J. Chatman is taking to heart words his former head football coach Rob Faircloth told him back during the football season.
“He always told us to do the right thing when people are not looking,” Chatman said. “Like if we were in the weight room and no one was there to make sure everything was doing what they were supposed to be doing and no one was playing around. You just have to push yourself.”
Chatman is having to do a lot on his own after the coronavirus cut his senior baseball season short.
“It was very disappointing,” Chatman said. “It was starting to get into a groove. We had a lot of rainouts and cold weather and I hadn’t really got back to where I needed to be. But it really wasn’t going to be a real regular season.”
But he was getting there.
Chatman was hitting .308 with two home runs as the Vikings improved their record to 2-7 with a win over Adams County Christian School.
The season was stopped before Vidalia’s home game with Cathedral on March 13. It was officially cancelled on April 9.
Chatman was hoping for another shot at the postseason after the Vikings were beaten in the first round last year. Vidalia had to overcome several injuries last year, including ace pitcher Peyton Fort, who was back at full health this year.
“We had a lot of young players last year,” Chatman said. “Now everybody was getting on the same page. We had just beaten ACCS and was getting ready to play Cathedral when it got shut down. I hate we missed that. I think everything was starting to fall into place. It all came so fast.”
Chatman also misses his classmates.
“People were always telling me there is nothing like your senior year, and I was like, “Yeah, whatever.’ Now I will never really be able to experience that entirely. They were right, I do miss that.”
Chatman, a 5-11, 235-pound first baseman, made the roster for and was the starting first baseman for the Maroon team at the Perfect Games Prospect Showcase in Fort Myers, Fl., last summer.
“That was a great experience playing with a lot of really good athletes from all across the country,” Chatman said. “We got to play in New Orleans at the the Red Sox training facility (Fort Myers, Fl.) It really made me work hard. I went out and competed for three days.”
As a junior on the Vikings’ baseball team, Chatman finished with a .449 batting average, driving in 20 runs.
“I really want to thank Coach (Michael) Norris for working with me in baseball and making me a much better player,” Chatman said.
Chatman was hoping by this time to receive more offers.
Alcorn State, Southern, Grambling, Wiley College and Mountain View had offered baseball scholarships, while Louisiana-Monroe asked him to walk on.
“That was very disappointing because the stoppage slowed down my recruiting process,” he said.
Chatman said he would like to play first base in college.
“It’s like you are a wall and everything comes to you,” he said.
Chatman was looking forward to the baseball season after a 3-8 season which saw the Vikings fall to Many 59-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
“Things just kind of went south,” Chatman said. “We had a lot of adversity. Every time something went wrong there was finger pointing and some in-fighting. It wasn’t what I expected.”
Chatman actually had thoughts of attending Ferriday High his senior year at one time.
“I started out playing pee wee football with all the guys on the Ferriday team now,” Chatman said. “They were even talking about starting a baseball team. But I didn’t think it would be the best for me in the long run. I was happy to finish at Vidalia, but I was really glad to see Ferriday win State.”
Chatman collected 78 tackles and five sacks his junior year at Vidalia.
“I wish I had another year to play football at Vidalia,” Chatman said. “I’m really going to miss it. I miss all the contact. And I think players bond more in football than baseball.”
Chatman has not been idle during the virus shutdown, working out with Barnes Academy in Alexandria, and with former Ferriday High and Louisiana College standout Richard Jefferson.
“The main thing I feel I have to work on is strength and conditioning,” he said. “Of course, I can always improve on my hitting and fielding.”
Chatman was hoping to make a decision on what school to attend before school was supposed to end at Vidalia High.
“I am going to have to go with what’s on the table,” he said. “I am just accepting things as they are and preparing for the next level. Right now I’m treating everything as an extended off-season.”