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Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, Daniel Hunter: Adult admission

March 29, 2001

Barry Faulkner

Daniel Hunter no longer wonders what kind of athlete he wants to be

when he grows up. Perhaps more important, neither do his Costa Mesa High

baseball teammates, nor Mustangs Coach Kirk Bauermeister.

For though there are no apparent physical changes in the 5-foot-8,

173-pounder who hit .296 as a junior left fielder, most would agree the

senior catcher bears little resemblance.

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"As a player, as a leader and as a young man, he has really matured

this year," Bauermeister said. "He has always been kind of a class clown,

which is one of the reasons he didn't catch last year. But he has shown

the kind of intangibles you want behind the plate this year."

Hunter, who credits Bauermeister for initiating his mental make-over,

has also shown plenty of tangible results. In three games last week, the

Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week went 4 for 6 with five walks, drove in

seven runs and continued to plague opposing base runners with his strong,

accurate throwing arm.

He hit a three-run home run to key a PCL win over Northwood Friday and

had a combined three hits and four RBIs in a loss to Mater Dei (March 19)

and a PCL tie against two-time defending league champion University

(April 20).

"Last year, I was mad at Kirk, because I was playing the outfield

instead of catching," Hunter said. "Kirk knew that and tried to break me

of that. This year, I made a promise to myself before the season that I

was going to be all about the team."

Bauermeister would hate to think where the Mustangs (8-1-1, 3-0-1 in

league and ranked No. 9 in Orange County in last week's poll) would be

without its redheaded leader.

"He's done a lot more than we've asked of him," Bauermeister said.

"He's a real complete player and he has been the guy who has made our

team go."

Hunter came into this week hitting .611 (11 for 18) with two homers

and 15 RBIs. He had also thrown out a handful of would-be base stealers,

while stealing three bases himself, to help Mesa hold an 18-4 advantage

over its opponents in stolen bases.

As a junior, he totaled two homers and nine RBIs in 71 at-bats.

"You never expect anyone to hit .600, but we expected him to hit

better than .400 this year," Bauermeister said. "We simplified his swing

a little this year and he's really been swinging a hot bat."

Hunter said shifting from a closed to an open stance, as well as

improved patience, have helped him become an offensive force.

"In the past, I swung at a lot of bad pitches and hit a lot of weak

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