11/19/04 — Lovett signs with Wolfpack

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Lovett signs with Wolfpack

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 19, 2004 1:56 PM

LOUISBURG -- Eric Lovett grabbed his gear and headed toward the Frazier Field diamond for another afternoon of fall baseball practice.

He chatted with his Louisburg College teammates until head coach Billy Godwin caught his attention. Godwin called him over and presented some news that nearly knocked Lovett off his feet -- something opposing pitchers have yet to do against the left-handed hitter.

"State's ready to make an offer," Godwin said.

A shocked Lovett stood silent.

Godwin chatted a couple of more minutes and practice began. Lovett, admittedly, thought more about playing for the Wolfpack than catching lazy fly balls on a fall-like afternoon.

But, he couldn't help but beam inside.

Lovett visited the N.C. State campus about two weeks ago and had an extended conversation with head coach Elliott Avent. Familiar with the facilities and the Wolfpack tradition, Lovett needed little prodding once chatting with Godwin.

Earlier this week, Lovett signed a national letter-of-intent with the Wolfpack. He's the third county player in the last three years to sign with an Atlantic Coast Conference school. Avent inked Charles B. Aycock standout Brian Grant, but he never made it to Raleigh after getting drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Rob Wooten, another Aycock standout, signed with North Carolina but missed last season due to shoulder surgery.

"It was kind of a spur of the moment thing," Lovett said. "I was going to hold out until the spring to see if anyone else was going to take me. But I knew, if things worked out, that's a place where I could go and get better as a player.

"State called and made an offer."

San Diego showed interest in Lovett during the Major League Baseball draft last summer. He was placed in a "draft and follow" program where scouts keep an eye on a player's progression and evaluate how they'll fit into the franchise.

Lovett might get drafted, but he isn't thinking about it. He's looking forward to finishing his junior college career and compete in one of the nation's top collegiate conferences. And with the addition of Miami (Fla.) this season, the competition will be even tougher, a challenge that Lovett relishes.

"I'm definitely excited to play against the top teams in the nation because that's something I've never done before," Lovett said. "Having Miami definitely takes the ACC up another level because they seem to make the College World Series every year.

"That will be a challenge for us."

The Wolfpack got a birds-eye view of the Miami campus last spring. They played in the four-team regional at Coral Gables with Miami, Florida Atlantic and St. Bonaventure. Florida Atlantic eliminated the Wolfpack, while Miami advanced to the CWS. The Hurricanes fell to eventual national champion Cal State-Fullerton in the early rounds.

N.C. State fashioned a 36-24 record that included a bottom-tier finish (11-12) in the ACC. The Pack made its fifth NCAA appearance in eight seasons under Avent's guidance.

"Coach said he's got some good players coming in next year and high expectations for us," said Lovett, who is projected to play outfield and first base. "He told me to go play ball and that everything will work out for the best.

"It really hasn't sunk in yet because I expected to sign in the spring. I've got to get ready to play in a good conference and play against good teams every day."