Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy coach Craig Chatman will lead his defending region champion baseball team into a new region this fall as the Wildcats compete in Region 2-AAAAAA.
HAMPTON — Lovejoy baseball coach Craig Chatman says his players know and understand the inherited pressure of being an athlete at the school.
With the majority of its teams doing well, no one wants to be the one that doesn’t have success.
“I’m going to be completely honest, these kids are asked if they are going to be the one not to do well,” Chatman said. “They know about the other teams’ success at the school.”
The football team, where Chatman serves as offensive coordinator, is coming off of consecutive appearances in the state title game.
So far, the baseball team has been able to live up to the high expectations with consecutive state playoff appearances. Last season, the Wildcats won the region championship.
With a host of players that saw significant playing time, Chatman is confident the team will be a region contender as they move from the Class AAAA level to the state’s highest classification.
“We are definitely excited about this team,” Chatman said. “We like what we have seen so far. We have been through the fire the last two years, and we have some players that have played some important baseball.”
Senior catcher Mark Flournoy will be counted on for leadership and a steady bat. Last season, he hit .325 with 33 RBIs.
The Wildcats must replace standout pitcher Xavier Anthony, but Chatman is confident in the returners he has on the staff.
Because of the region size, Lovejoy will play only two region games a week, instead of the traditional three. Chatman said that could work in his team’s favor with a deep pitching staff.
Senior Andrew Nicholson, junior Danyale Brimer, junior Luis DeJesus, and senior T.J. Ramos will be used on the mound. Chatman said that senior Demetruis Banks will also get an opportunity to pitch this spring.
“I’m sure some of the other teams in our region are in the same situation,” he said. “I don’t know much about the other teams. We are just going to have to go out there and play baseball and make adjustments during the games.”
The only opponent Lovejoy has consistently played is county rival Morrow. New opponents include Luella, Newton, Alcovy and Druid Hills.
“Many of my players have played against those other players in the summer and while growing up,” Chatman said. “They are sort of familiar with them. I don’t know much about the other teams.”
The team defeated Banneker earlier this week, and will play consecutive games against Tri-Cities on Friday and Saturday. Lovejoy opens its Region 2-AAAAAA schedule on Tuesday at Druid Hills High in DeKalb County.
“We are going to mix and match the players during the early part of the season,” Chatman said. “Its my job to put us in a position to win. By late March and early April we will know about our rotation and how we stack up in the region.”