Heading into the season, Tom Farina knew Nate Egofske was going to be his catcher. What the veteran New Berlin West baseball coach didn't know was how complete of a player his backstop would become.
Egofske developed into one of the top catchers in the area as a junior, earning himself a spot on Now Newspaper's All-Suburban baseball team and first-team All-Woodland Conference honors.
He helped New Berlin West to a 19-10 record, a Woodland Conference tournament championship and a playoff victory.
"It is going to sound silly, but he improved greatly in all phases of the game," Farina said. "As a receiver, throwing, the quickness of the ball coming out of his hands and his approach at the plate were all huge improvements.
"He was improved from his freshman to his sophomore year, but it was a giant leap between his sophomore and his junior year. He was very confident in himself. I think that above all was the biggest change. He believed everything he did was going to be successful for him."
After hitting .289 as a sophomore on varsity, Egofske raised his batting average to .466 (42 for 90). He hit 14 doubles, four triples and drove in 32 runs for the Vikings.
Egofske and freshman first baseman Nick Paget (.457) carried the offensive load for New Berlin West, as no other Vikings player hit over .318.
"Just keeping my hands back," Egofske said of where he improved the most offensively from his sophomore year. "I have pretty quick hands through the zone. I started keeping my hands back and swing down to the ball to see everything."
Egofske wasn't just an offensive standout, but he was a rock behind the plate. He led a successful New Berlin West pitching staff and also eliminated the running game of opponents by throwing out 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) attempted base stealers.
"I've always had a good relationship with my pitchers," Egofske said. "They know that if they make a mistake, I have their back. If somebody steals, I'm normally going to get them. It makes my pitchers feel comfortable and my team feel comfortable."
Having Egofske behind the plate also made Farina comfortable, as he trusted Egofske enough to allow him to call his own game.
"It is exactly what you need and what you want," Farina said. "It makes my job a lot easier every day when I can just pencil him as a catcher. There's nothing more true in baseball than the importance of being strong up the middle. It does start with him because every pitch that comes home goes through him.
"He knew what we were looking for from him with our pitching staff. He was able to take control of that. He did a great job from calling a game to being a receiver to throwing out runners."
The lone freshman to earn any kind of All-Suburban honors, Paget was named high honorable mention.
He was first-team All-Woodland Conference after hitting .457 with 12 doubles, three triples, two home runs and a team-leading 33 RBIs.
Paget had three walk-off hits and also hit a two-out, game-tying home run in the seventh inning against Pius XI Catholic.
"He puts a smile on my face," Farina said of Paget. "I've never seen a more relaxed guy on the field. If somebody doesn't know Nick, they would say he doesn't work hard or that he doesn't care because that's how relaxed he is out on the field. But nothing could be further from the truth.
"At a very young age, he has learned that putting pressure on yourself doesn't help you, it hinders you."