By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
Though it seems incomprehensible now, Chace Phillips wasn't sure how long Reynaldo Adames would last hitting leadoff for Milton's high school baseball team.
Phillips, the Black Panthers' first-year coach, had known the senior center fielder to be streaky at the plate. And though his speed made Adames appear a hand-in-glove fit atop the batting order, it could also wreak havoc farther down the lineup if other players were reaching base more frequently.
"Going into March, we weren't too sure what we'd get out of Rey (at leadoff)," Phillips said. "We were wondering when or if we might have to take him out of that spot.
"But, my God, he was our leader in almost every major offensive category. He far exceeded our expectations."
Adames led the resurgent Panthers in average (.450), hits (27), runs scored (26), stolen bases (nine), doubles (eight), home runs (four) and slugging percentage (.783). His on-base percentage of .548 only slightly trailed junior shortstop Damian Moyer (.557), and he tied for second with 15 RBIs.
Throw in two saves and game-changing defensive play, and Adames was an overwhelming choice for Daily Item Player of the Year.
"He had a phenomenal year, was a model for consistency in our lineup -- our offensive catalyst all year," said Phillips. "In my mind he couldn't have done anything more."
Adames earned his coach's trust with eight knocks in an early five-game hit streak that was punctuated with a mammoth home run at Midd-West, the first of three bombs in a four-game span.
"I was thinking, 'We really have something here,'" said Phillips. "That's when I realized he was going to be something special. He stayed locked-in the rest of the season."
The Dominican native was hitless in just three of Milton's 20 games. He had multiple hits nine times, with a season-best 4-for-4 against Wellsboro on May 19. That was the opening game of the Pap Giles Tournament, and he followed it up with a 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBIs against host Montoursville in the title game.