A trio of Charlotte baseball players signed pro contracts and will report to their respective teams for their first professional baseball season this summer.
Senior Patrick Lawson (Hilton Head, S.C.) signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Tigers and will report to the Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn league, which begins playon June 18.
Ryan Rivers (Baltimore, Md. / Eastern Technical HS), who was drafted in the 35th round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, signed a contract, forgoing his final season of collegiate eligibility, and will report to camp this week. He was the 11th player picked from Charlotte since 2006.
Senior Zane Williams (Claremore, Okla.) signed a free agent contract with Tampa Bay and will start his pro career with the Princeton (W.V.) Rays on June 22.Lawson was named to the Ping!Baseball.com Third-Team All-America team and to the 2010 North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) University Division All-State Baseball Team this month. He was a 2010 First-Team All-Atlantic 10 relief pitcher, and paced Charlotte with eight saves and a 0.61 ERA to go with a 4-0 record for the Niners this season. Lawson allowed just two earned runs during the season and a factor in Charlotte's 32-0 record when tied or leading after eight innings this season.
The right hander transitioned from a Saturday starter in 2009 to the closer in 2010, but was very effective in short outings. In 10 of his 23 season appearances, he did not allow a hit or a walk. His eight saves are tied for fourth-most in a single season in program history. His save total was third in the Atlantic 10 this season, while leading the league among closers in ERA. Lawson allowed just one earned run against conference opponents in nine league games in 2010. He finished his career at Charlotte with a 10-3 record and eight saves in two seasons.Rivers finished his junior campaign with the 49ers with team-highs of 13 home runs, 16 doubles and 63 RBI this season, as well as a .630 slugging percentage to pace Charlotte. His totals put him fourth in the A-10 in RBI and sixth in homers and total bases. Rivers was ninth in slugging and on-base percentage in the league in 2010. He has the led the team in home runs and RBI in each of the past two seasons. He was one of four players on the team to record a multiple home run day in 2010, one of only a pair to do it twice in the season. He belted two home runs in the final game of the season, against Saint Louis at the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. He was named to the All-Tournament Team in 2010 and was a Second-Team All-Atlantic 10 selection in 2009.
After serving as a pitcher in his freshman campaign with Charlotte he transitioned to a first baseman in the past two seasons and already is eighth on the all-time home runs list with the Niners with 31 (after leading the Atlantic 10 with 18 homers last year).
Rivers is a mechanical engineering major and has twice earned Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team status and was a First-Team "ESPN the Magazine" Academic All-District III member in 2009.
Williams earned Honorable Mention All-Atlantic 10 this past season, starting in all but one of Charlotte 56 games this season as a catcher, DH and outfielder. He earned the A-10 Conference Player of the Week on March 15. He batted .283 in his final collegiate season, leading the A-10 and finishing in the Top 30 in the NCAA in walks (47) and walks per game. He belted a pair of home runs in a pair of games, which included recording a career-high seven RBI on Mar. 5 against Marist. Charlotte was 7-3 in games in which he hit a home run in a game, including a 2-0 mark when he hit more than one home run. He registered the only grand slam for Charlotte of the season, his second of two homers in the Mar. 5 Marist game. He finished second on the team with 12 home runs, second with a .556 slugging percentage, third with 51 RBI and a .997 OPS and fourth with 13 doubles.
Charlotte finished 39-17 in 2010, regular-season champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Niners captured their third title in five seasons of A-10 membership.