Select Page

An Interview with Rebels’ standout second baseman Peyton Chatagnier

An Interview with Rebels’ standout second baseman Peyton Chatagnier

Ole Miss second baseman Peyton Chatagnier burst onto the scene at Ole Miss as a freshman, quickly earning the starting job to begin the 2020 campaign. The Cypress (TX) native was named an SEC Fab Freshman by by D1Baseball for his outstanding season. 

Recently, The Rebel Walk had the opportunity to visit with Chatagnier. 

We started off by asking Peyton how often his last name gets mispronounced (it’s correctly pronounced “SHOT-an-yay”). “On an average week, if we play three games a week, then at least three times within that week,” he laughed and said. “But it happens probably more often than that, but it’s almost on purpose people mispronounce. So I’d say maybe nine, 10 times a week.”  

Team chemistry

With the increased roster size due to players having the option to repeat a year of eligibility as a result of COVID, one might worry about the team’s chemistry.

Anthony Servideo (left) and Chatagnier celebrate last season. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

But Chatagnier says that’s not a problem at all. “It’s honestly been really good,” he said. “I don’t know what it is about our team. I don’t know if it’s the coaching staff or just the older guys or what. I really like the chemistry this year.”  

Chemistry between a second baseman and shortstop is critical to the overall success in the infield. Think back to recent examples of Chatagnier and Anthony Servideo in 2020, Grae Kessinger and Jacob Adams in 2019, or Kessinger and Tate Blackman in 2017. 

Chatagnier and starting shortstop Jacob Gonzales are ready to pick up where the other dynamic duos left off. 

“Gonzales is a little bit more quiet, a little more reserved,” Chatagnier says. “But it kind of goes back to our team chemistry. Everyone’s got their own little personality, but we click well, we turn two a lot– working on finding each other’s rhythm and things like that. So it’s been it’s been good.”  

Second base – shortstop celebration

Chatagnier is well-known for his ball spike that immediately followed the game-ending strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play in the Sunday game of the Louisville series — and the subsequent celebration with then-Rebel shortstop Servideo. 

Does he have plans for a celebration with Gonzales similar to last season’s? Fans will just have to wait and see. 

“That’s the tricky part,” Chatagnier said when we asked what we might expect. 

I’ve got Anthony Servideo just screaming down my neck, telling me I cannot do it the same as last year,’s going to be tough not to do the exact same thing, because that was a tradition before me and Ant (Servideo) did it. So I don’t know if I’m supposed to keep the tradition or change it up. Coach Clem (Mike Clement) seems to think I have to do the same thing. But I honestly think it’s just going to be a game-time decision. I’m not sure. But we’re going to do something.

Peyton Chatagnier

Fabulous freshman 

Chatagnier was extremely successful in 2020, hitting a Rebel freshman-best .311 batting average and notching four home runs and four doubles en route to a .574 slugging percentage in the COVID-shortened campaign.  

He appeared in all 17 games, starting 15 at second base. He posted a .449 on base percentage and finished ninth in the nation and fourth in the SEC with 23 runs scored. He hit his first career home run in Game 3 vs. Xavier and notched his first career multi-homer outing in Game 3 against Princeton, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI. 

Last week, he was named the No. 5 second baseman in the nation by D1 Baseball. 

Even with all that, Chatagnier has areas in which he wants to improve this season, saying is focusing on striking out fewer times, walking more, and sending more hits to the opposite side of the field.

State Farm College Baseball Showdown

The upcoming State Farm College Baseball Showdown features the Rebels playing against three of the top teams in the country: No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 9 Texas, and No. 10 TCU. 

Facing three top 10 teams to open the season doesn’t phase Chatagnier at all. “I think the preparation would be the same for whoever we were to play,” he said. 

I think it’s awesome that we get to start out playing such good teams. It’s only going to, I think, help us the same as last year. Hopefully we can start out to a great start, but I think it’s going to be fun. And no doubt all those teams are good. So it’s going to be it’s going to be a challenge, but I think it will really help us out just to get the season started.”

Peyton Chatagnier on the opening tournament

Being from Texas, Chatagnier is familiar with some of the opponents he will see in the tournament. “I know a couple of guys,” he explained. “One guy at UT, Ty Madden, and then Drew Baker at Texas Tech. I played against them. Actually Ty Madden went to my rival high school, so we were always playing each other and his team—his team always beat us. So it’s going to be fun to hopefully get them back.”

Adjustments due to COVID

COVID restrictions and protocols continue to affect us all, and that is no different for Rebel baseball. Chatagnier mentioned one particular change that has been an adjustment during intrasquads. 

“I’m not sure how they’re going to do it in games, but pitchers aren’t allowed to be in the dugout, ones that aren’t pitching,” he noted. 

“And just the amount of energy that pitchers normally bring in the dugout, I really do think that helps us out whenever we’re in the defense and they’re cheering us on. So it’s going to be totally different from that perspective. And I hope there’s some way we can get them in there while we’re playing, but I’m not sure. That’s honestly, I think, been the biggest difference for me.” Chatagnier commented.

In his weekly press conference Monday, head coach Mike Bianco also addressed the topic, indicating the Rebels would use the bullpen differently this year because of COVID, much like a pro team would, sending up to 10 pitchers to the pen, where they will sit with chairs spread out to minimize virus transmission. There will be a timer set for 8 – 10 minutes after which players will rotate. “We’ll have a bit of musical chairs going on in the dugout,” Bianco quipped.

High expectations for 2021

Expectations couldn’t be higher for this year’s team, with many fans hoping and dreaming of making the pilgrimage from Oxford to Omaha and the College World Series. But the players don’t let those aspirations get in their heads.  

Peyton Chatagnier is primed for an outstanding sophomore season. (Photo: Ole Miss Athletics)

“Coach B (Bianco) is real good,” Chatagnier explained. “He says ‘don’t listen to the outside noise.’ I mean, it’s obviously tough to not do it. But if you listen to the good things, he says you’re then going to listen to the bad things as well. So you just try to be as neutral as you can”

The second baseman doesn’t believe the lofty rankings bring any extra pressure to him or his teammates. “I hope people have us ranked high,” he said. 

You know, I believe our team should be up there. So it’s no surprise to me. I don’t think it (Top 10 rankings) brings any more pressure or anything like that. It’s just cool to know that people know we’re going to be good this year.

Peyton Chatagnier on expectations for 2021

Chatagnier on which Rebel pitcher he least wants to face

As a hitter who faces all the Ole Miss aces on a regular basis, who does the right-handed Chatagnier least like to go up against? 

That would be Doug Nikhazy. 

“Oh gosh, wow. I’m going to go with Doug,” he said.

I struggle more against Doug for whatever reason. I don’t know if it’s his slider changeup — or whatever he throws against me — but for me, personally, I would have to go, Doug. But I don’t know how it would be if you asked everybody else on the team. I think it would be just about 50/50. Those are really good pitchers.

Chatagnier on Doug Nikhazy

Newcomer who impresses Chatagnier 

We also asked Chatagnier which of the talented Ole Miss newcomers has impressed him the most so far.

That would be Calvin Harris. 

“He’s a freshman, and he just came back not too long ago because he had Tommy John (surgery). All he can do right now is hit, but to see him, he hasn’t seen live pitching since his last high school game that he got to play, and so for him to come out and just swing the bat and he’s barreling up on balls, he’s getting on base. And it’s honestly just crazy to see him being able to compete.” 

Coaching wisdom from Clement and Bianco

Coaches help players increase their skills every day, and 20-year skipper Mike Bianco has one of the finest coaching staffs in the country.  

Coach Bianco as the Rebels prepare to play Princeton. (Photo: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss)

Chatagnier is grateful for all that assistant coach Mike Clement has taught him. “The most important thing I learned from coach is probably to just be yourself,” said Chatagnier. 

“He has really helped me out and just let me be my own guy and play the way I want to play and things like that. He’s real good about making sure I stay within myself, like hitting and fielding and things like that. But I think just him reassuring me that the way I was whenever I came to school, before Ole Miss, it should be the same as I am here now, which I love.”  

He also reflected on the valuable lessons he has learned from Coach Bianco. 

I think the most important thing is to be able to handle the adversity. He’s done a great job of putting us in pressure situations — making practice hard and doing all these different things to get us prepared for the season. And that helped me out a lot. I knew going into the season last year, I was going to be nervous and things like that. But the way Coach B has prepped all the new guys, it’s helped out a lot.

Chatagnier on Bianco’s coaching wisdom

Rapid Fire Questions

We concluded our time with some rapid fire questions for Chatagnier, an Exercise Science major who has chosen “Nike Boots” by Wale as his walk up song this season:

Rebel Walk: What’s your favorite movie?

Peyton Chatagnier: My favorite movie, I’m going to go with Christmas Vacation. It is a tradition that my family always watches it on Christmas.

RW: How about your favorite TV show?

PC: I’m not that big into TV shows, but right now Manifest.

RW: Who is your favorite professional athlete?

PC: Elvis Andrus. Very sad he won’t be with the Rangers anymore. I just love him and he’s obviously a great player, but I just loved the way he plays and the way he interacts with (Adrian) Beltre and stuff like that. It was awesome to watch.

RW: What is the SEC stadium you’re most excited to play in beside Swayze?

PC: Texas A&M. That is going to be so cool.

RW: If you’re taking your girlfriend out in Oxford for a nice night out, where are you going?

PC: The Grillehouse, probably.

RW: What is your favorite lunch in Oxford?

PC: This is a weird one, but it’s chicken on a stick. I’m a big fan of chicken on a stick. It’s the Chevron across the highway. It’s great. I go there four times a week.

RW: What’s the best thing about Oxford?

PC: The Southern hospitality, everyone here is super nice.

RW: Which teammate of yours is the best follow on Twitter or Instagram and why?

PC: I hate giving him clout, but I would say, J.R. (John Rhys Plumlee). I mean, J.R., every household knows the name John Rhys Plumlee here in Oxford. So he’s a good guy to have. I hate giving him attention because I know he loves it and he gets enough of it, but it would be John Rhys. 

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Chris Muller

Chris Muller

Chris is our Director of Baseball Content and Senior Baseball Writer. Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 25 years, Amber, and German Shorthaired Pointer, Sophie. Chris is an avid Ole Miss Baseball and Football fan. His hobbies include watching college football and baseball and playing poker with his friends.

About The Author

Chris Muller

Chris is our Director of Baseball Content and Senior Baseball Writer. Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 25 years, Amber, and German Shorthaired Pointer, Sophie. Chris is an avid Ole Miss Baseball and Football fan. His hobbies include watching college football and baseball and playing poker with his friends.

Leave a Reply

Get RW Updates