By Rich Fisher | Correspondent
While we should all be thanking Aaron Ahn for what he wants to do for his country, a few pitchers can be forgiven if they don’t have nice things to say about the Red Bank Catholic senior.
Afterall, he does make their lives miserable at times.
Ahn will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis next year to pursue a lifelong goal of serving his country. And for that, there is not enough thanks to give.
But he still has one more season to show off his hitting prowess in the Shore Conference, for which hurlers are giving no thanks at all.
In the Caseys 4-2 start this season, Ahn was hitting over .500, which should hardly come as a surprise. The Marlboro resident hit well over .400 in both his sophomore and junior seasons, and led RBC with four home runs last year.
“He’s been a big part of our teams,” RBC coach Buddy Hausmann said. “He’s a great kid, he works as hard as anybody we’ve ever had. He’s very serious about baseball and everything he’s put into it. The kid’s a 12-month-a-year kid between the weight room and hitting. He’s just a very dedicated kid.”
Ahn started out in the Marlboro Little League and when he reached age 9 he switched to travel ball. He played in New Jersey with the Tri-State Arsenal and also played for the Central Florida Gators. He started there at age 12 and would fly down for several weeks with his parents for tournaments.
Playing stellar competition helped make him a strong player, but Aaron also did a lot on his own.
“I guess watching baseball you can pick up a lot of stuff watching on TV, watching those instructional videos,” Ahn said. “It’s just going out of your way to find extra things. I guess that’s what really helped me get to where I am today.
“There was always my hitting coaches, they would always have their input and I’d listen to it. I’d see what works best for me. There were some things I didn’t feel comfortable with, that didn’t work, there were other things I really liked that I stuck with.”
Defensively, Ahn has been all over the infield for RBC. He started at his natural position of third base, moved to second and this year is playing shortstop.
“It hasn’t been a tough adjustment,” he said. “When I moved to second, I put in a lot of work during the off-season to adjust my angle from that side of the field. Now at shortstop, I’m back on the left side of the field where I started.”
“He’s very good defensively,” Hausmann said. “He’s very good at all three spots. I think he can play wherever they need him in college. I know they want to get him in there because of his offense.”
One of the secrets to Ahn’s hitting prowess is not over-analyzing things. He has pure ability and lets it work for him.
“A lot of people say ‘Just don’t think, react’,” he said. “There’s some thinking to it. I try to keep it as simple as possible. If you see the ball, just hit the ball. I try not to make anything too complicated.”
“He’s just got very strong hands and a quick bat, the ball explodes off of his bat,” Hausmann said. “He’s a very strong kid, but especially getting into the zone; his hands are very strong.”
Ahn is hoping that RBC can bring home some kind of title this year, be it in the county, conference or state tournament. After that, he will live out a dream by playing baseball for Navy as he prepares to become a U.S. Naval officer.
He will join his brother Andrew, who is currently a junior at Annapolis.
“My brother first sparked interest in it for himself in middle school,” Aaron said. “Ever since then, my grandfather was in the Navy and my dad was always looking at Naval Academy stuff, so with all three of them, it’s kind of hard not to pay attention to everything the Naval Academy has to offer.”
Ahn attended Navy baseball camps in middle school and made it official he would go there at the start of his sophomore year.
“I’ve always wanted to do it,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to serve my country, get a great education and play D-I baseball. Going there is everything I could ever want.”
“The coach saw him at those camps down there and said ‘What do I need to do to make this a done deal,’” Hausmann said. “It’s a different commitment, a different lifestyle, different everything. But it’s always something he has enjoyed, something he and his brother want to go through. It’s all about serving his country.”
He already has the mindset for the military.
“He’s not a guy you worry about on Friday nights and Saturday nights,” Hausmann said. “He comes from a well structured family. Discipline has always been in his blood since he was a little kid.”
Aaron feels that discipline has helped him, not just in baseball, but in all facets of life.
“It definitely helps me through regular day stuff,” he said. “It starts with school work, going to the gym and practice. It’s just about making the right choices. It does take a lot of discipline.”
It’s that kind of discipline that makes Americans proud of guys like Aaron Ahn.