Braves select East Longmeadow's Ahmed
Date: 6/14/2011June 13, 2011
By Chris Maza
Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW It's an exciting time for East Longmeadow native Nick Ahmed.
After his University of Connecticut (UConn) baseball team beat Clemson University to win the Clemson Regional of the National Collegiate Athletic Association baseball tournament, Ahmed and his teammates received even more good news as they sat in front of a computer screen.
Less than 24 hours after advancing to the Columbia Super Regional series against the University of South Carolina, the final step before the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Ahmed was drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
"It was pretty exciting. We had an off day so me and some of my teammates were following the draft on the computer," Ahmed told Reminder Publications
before heading to practice. "That's when I saw my name on the screen and found out I had been drafted."
On the MLB draft's second day, the Atlanta Braves selected Ahmed, a junior shortstop for the Huskies, with the 85th overall pick. He is one of 10 UConn players to get the call to the professional ranks over the three-day draft.
However, the excitement of the draft didn't offer any distraction to him or his teammates, who remained focused in their pursuit of the College World Series.
"The first night of the draft, we had to play and we beat the best team in our region," Ahmed recalled.
Ahmed was named to the lemson Regional All-Tournament team as the Huskies continued its tear, which included a 45-18-1 record and the Big East regular-season championship. None of his team's accomplishments come as a surprise to Ahmed.
"We came into this season knowing we had a great team and we had a lot of talent coming back," he said. "I think what worked for us all season is still working for us now and we're playing our best baseball right now."
Ahmed was a standout baseball and basketball star at East Longmeadow High School, earning, among other accolades, Western Massachusetts Baseball Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year honors for his senior campaign. He also was a 1,000-point scorer for the Spartans basketball team.
The Huskies' co-captain was sporting a .333 batting average and a .432 on base percentage, 33 runs batted in and 23 stolen bases through 49 games, all of which he started. He also had a .965 fielding percentage.
Ahmed, who has been credited with an extraordinary work ethic to supplement the tremendous talent that had him regarded by Baseball America as one of the top college shortstops, has faced challenges over his college career, including a collapsed lung after a collision in a game at Quinnipiac University in April.
However, his commitment and determination are what Ahmed credited for his continued success throughout the season.
"I think that this is something to demonstrate that hard work really can pay off," he said.
Ahmed has not made a decision on his baseball future and whether or not he will return to UConn for his senior season.
"We haven't had any real discussions yet," Ahmed said. "I think I'm going to see how the college season goes before making any decisions. I'm hoping I'll be making that decision after a nice little run in Omaha."