By Dan Truttschel~ Sports Correspondent

A serious knee injury last fall not only ended Wilmot senior Kenny Eterno’s football season, it threatened to end his final baseball campaign before it even began.

There was no way Eterno would let that happen – so he spent the winter doing what it took to get back on the diamond by spring.

All that effort paid off, as Eterno closed his high school career in style recently, as he was named to the first-team, All-Southern Lakes Conference.

Joining Eterno, a shortstop, on the squad from Wilmot are junior pitcher Chaz Schmidt, second team, and sophomore outfielder Garrett Bogucki, honorable mention.

Wilmot won the SLC title in 2012 with a 10-4 record, one game ahead of Burlington and Westosha Central. The Panthers advanced to the sectional round before they fell 4-0 to Kenosha Bradford and finished at 16-12 overall.

Final season statistics were unavailable this week, but Eterno led the Panthers in a number of categories, Wilmot coach Josh Pye said.

“Kenny was definitely one of our senior leaders,” he said. “He had an amazing year offensively and definitely led us defensively, too.”

The work that Eterno put in to rehabilitate his knee injury showed the passion he has for baseball, Pye said.

“The kid is a natural athlete,” he said. “Baseball is his passion. When he got that injury last fall, that definitely brought him down, and his first concern was getting healthy for baseball.

“He worked his tail off all winter. His hard work definitely showed this spring. He was healthy, 100 percent and didn’t leave anything on the field. He can walk away as a senior saying he gave it everything he had.”

Schmidt was a key member of the Panthers’ pitching staff all spring. Through the Panthers’ first 11 games, he was a perfect 7-0 on the mound.

“He worked tremendously this past off-season and it really showed,” Pye said. “His numbers were OK as a sophomore, but he really stepped it up for his junior year.

“I think he’s going to make even more progress coming into his senior year. The kid loves baseball. It’s all he does, and it shows.”

Bogucki hit third in the Wilmot lineup to start the season before Pye moved Eterno into that slot and had Bogucki bat cleanup.

From there, the young Wilmot outfielder seemed to flourish, Pye said.

“I think that took a little bit of pressure off him,” Pye said. “Garrett really started to shine once Kenny hit in that three spot.”

The change offensively wasn’t the only adjustment Pye made with Bogucki, as he moved him from left field to catcher late in the season.

“He really stepped it up and filled a hole we needed to fill there,” Pye said. “I saw a lot of progression from him as the season went on. He has that natural leadership ability that we’re going to see (even more) in his junior and senior year.”

 

 
 

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