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Munoz Leading a Double Life

Baseball: Esperanza shortstop, who is batting .349, also will play soccer next year at Biola.

June 02, 1998|MIKE TERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

David Munoz is living the good life these days.

He's the starting shortstop for Esperanza, which plays Long Beach Wilson in a Southern Section Division I semifinal game today at Blair Field.

He has been a top midfielder on the Esperanza soccer team, which has won Sunset League titles his three varsity seasons.

And when Munoz, 18, enrolls at Biola this fall, he'll be on scholarship to play both sports.

"The baseball coach, John Verhoeven, whom my family has known for a while, wanted me to come," Munoz said. "I didn't know the soccer coach [Matt Orr], but Verhoeven talked to him about me and how I could benefit both programs.

"So the soccer coach saw me play a couple of games and decided to split the scholarship."

Splitting scholarships isn't anything new at Biola. "This year I had four players who also played soccer," Verhoeven said. Last season, his team had Orr's son, Ben, who also was an All-Golden State Athletic Conference soccer player for the Eagles.

"I've known David since he was 10, when he started coming to hit at the batting cage business I once owned," Verhoeven said of Munoz. "I like him. He's outstanding defensively with a very good arm and good range. He will be an outstanding college shortstop. And his bat has come around. I think he will be an outstanding hitter, too."

Munoz, batting .349 for Esperanza with eight RBIs and 23 runs scored, said he was lucky. When he enrolled at the school in 1994, he was told by friends he would probably have to choose between soccer and baseball. "There had been people who had tried both and were told to choose one," he said.

But his father, Ignacio, sat down with Esperanza baseball Coach Mike Curran, and asked if he had a problem with David playing both sports. Curran said no.

"He is a pretty good athlete," Curran said. "I've never watched him play soccer, but from what I've heard he's a tremendous soccer player.

"I think he is going to blossom in college. For one thing, he will have a break between the two seasons. Here, it's hard to come from one sport to another when they can overlap."

Esperanza boys' soccer Coach Kino Oaxaca also says he believes Munoz will be successful in college.

"He was a very strong player with good skills," Oaxaca said. "He can play both sports in college. He is good enough and disciplined enough that he can do both."

Right now, it's baseball's turn. Munoz has helped the Aztecs win their second consecutive Sunset League title and they are shooting for their second Division I championship in a row. He tied the school single-season record for doubles (12), and set a school record for triples (four).

Munoz has also excelled on defense. He made a diving stop to save a run in Esperanza's first-round, 13-3 victory over Nogales.

Like his Aztec teammates, Munoz is excited to be in the semifinals, especially after Esperanza, which lost 17 seniors to graduation, started its season slowly.

"Our team became good when we came into the second round of league," Munoz said. "We made a commitment that we would not lose a series. We put each team's name on a blackboard with a box next to it, and each time we took a series we put a check in the box.

"We took the series from every team in league. And here we are. I don't think we're proven anything yet. If we get to finals, that would prove our point."

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