With the news that Taylor Braley would be undergoing knee surgery that would effectively end his season, some thought third base would be a spot of trouble for Southern Miss. But coach Scott Berry put a relative unknown in Braley’s spot on the field, and fans can expect a slight drop-off from talent but not effort.
“He hasn’t really seen much action at night here,” Berry said. “They’re are a couple of plays he’ll learn from, but he’s a good ballplayer. He’ll contribute.”
A junior standout at Pearl River Community College, Tracy Hadley came to Southern Miss expecting to put his athleticism on center stage immediately. But with the season that Braley had been having, there was just no room for Hadley to get on the field. Now, with Braley’s hiatus due to a torn meniscus, Hadley has been thrusted into the lineup.
“That’s a hard spot to fill,” Hadley said. “You can’t look at it like you have to do what [Braley] does, but stay in your identity and try the best you can to produce for the team.”
Against Ole Miss in relief of Braley, Hadley did not record a hit in the game, but got on base due to two walks. With those walks, Hadley could showcase one thing about his game that is an improvement over Braley — his speed.
Hadley also may not have half the power that Braley had in his bat or the potency of his swing, but Hadley does have the legs to take off whenever a ball is in play.
“I always wanted to win,” Hadley said. “Every aspect of the game, you can improve on.”
The Golden Eagle rotation could use a player like Hadley. Immediately, he would be the fastest to get on base with his speedy legs standing at six feet and weighing 183 pounds.
He’s taking all of his opportunities to get on the field in stride, as evidenced by his sole hit in the opening game against Middle Tennessee this past weekend. Although he only got on base once, he knows exactly what his role is.
“Whatever I need to do to help the team win, that’s what I’m going to do,” Hadley said. “You have to be humble.”
Hadley did not start in the final two games of the series, but looks to regain a spot in the starting lineup as the season progresses with Braley on the mend. His defensive play will not always show up on the stat sheet, and according to Berry, it is the little things that make Hadley stand out.
“It’s not always making the great plays, it’s not always getting the hit,” Hadley said. “It’s the things that you do in between because those don’t show up too often. you will have that opportunity [and] it’s all those other things and consistent things [that] show up every day.”