Valley View junior catcher Lawson Ward (6-1, 185) announced his commitment to the University of Arkansas baseball program on Saturday.
Ward, one of the state’s best baseball 2024 prospects, did so just minutes after finishing up at the Prep Baseball Report’s Futures Game in Atlanta.
He got the offer earlier this week after Razorback hitting coach Nate Thompson watched him in action in Atlanta.
“It’s just everything about it – their facility, the campus, the football games and the basketball games and just the environment of Arkansas nation,” Ward said. “Arkansas baseball being one of he top programs in the nation and being a part of that was just a really high goal for me. I’ve got to finally be a part of it.”
Ward played his summer baseball on for a 16-and-under squad for the Arkansas Sticks, an organization founded by Chase Brewster.
“Lawson Ward is one of the best catch and throw guys the I have seen in the last seven or eight years since we have had the sticks,” Brewster said. “Valley View has been one of the best, if not the best, baseball programs in the state the last couple of years.
“He is a defensive catcher at heart that has an unbelievable arm that has hit it really well all summer so he has really turned into an all-around package player.”
Playing with the Sticks has allowed Ward to catch Arkansas 2024 pitching commits Ross Felder, Gideon Motes and Lance Davis.
“We have the majority of the best arms in the state in the 2024 class that play for the Sticks,” Brewster said. “I think Lawson getting to catch those guys like Ross Felder and Gideon Motes, Lance Davis – all 2024s committed to Arkansas – along with Kel Busby, who has an Arkansas offer, has been great for him.
“I think that has just really helped him behind the plate when you get the chance to catch the best guys in the state. It can’t do anything but make you better.
“He’s been kind of the captain of that group. It’s one thing to have all these arms, but another thing to find somebody to catch them and kind of hold them accountable when they need to be held accountable. Lawson has done just that.”
Ward has enjoyed catching the aforementioned hurlers.
“I think my defense, being able to keep runners in check, definitely lets the pitchers feel more comfortable with what they can throw, knowing that I can block the ball, keep it in front and not let the runner advance.
“I also think my pitch-calling ability is plus-plus. I really don’t get shaken off much and then I have the arm, too.”
Ole Miss outfielder and left-handed pitching commit Slade Caldwell (5-8, 168) and Ward are Valley View teammates.
“Slade Caldwell is kind of the leader of their program, but Lawson is right behind him,” Brewster said. “Lawson has just been a workhorse and has continued to get better.
“He battled some injuries as a freshman and played some third base. He’s been up to 92 on mound. He caught every game for them as a sophomore and I am sure going forward he will continue to catch and pitch for them.
“They have a really good pitching coach over there that really develops arms and arm strength and I am sure that him working with Lawson on the pitching side that he has continue to improve his throwing ability.”