Southern Miss sophomore third baseman Taylor Braley had knee surgery Tuesday morning, putting his status in question for the rest of the season.
"This is certainly news that you do not want to hear during the middle of your season, or anytime really, but we are very disappointed in this news for Taylor," USM coach Scott Berry said in a press release. "He was having a tremendous year for us, but we will adjust and move forward as the season goes on. We know that he will work extremely hard to get back on the field as soon as possible."
Braley has been one of the nation's top power hitters this season with a .323 batting average, 10 homers and 31 RBIs.
Braley injured his knee while fielding a ball during Saturday's game at Charlotte.
The length of Braley's absence is uncertain, but Pascagoula product Tracy Hadley will likely see the majority of the playing time at third base going forward.
Hadley started at shortstop for USM to begin the campaign, but injuries limited his playing time for the first month of the season.
Hadley, who played two seasons at Pearl River CC before transferring to USM, is batting .438 with a homer and and eight RBIs in 32 at-bats this season.
Hadley played in all four games last week, splitting time at third, second base and designated hitter. He went 8-for-19 with six RBIs at the plate during the four-game stretch.
Former Harrison Central and Mississippi Gulf Coast CC standout Michael Gilbert, who is a senior, could also see some time at third base.
The loss of Braley does take some punch out of the lineup, but the Golden Eagles won't be lacking in power going forward.
USM ranks third in the nation in total home runs with 39. Senior first baseman Tim Lynch is batting .393 with six homers and 34 RBIs. Junior right fielder Dylan Burdeaux has seven homers and 27 RBIs while Chase Scott has five homers.
USM was 22-7 entering Tuesday night's game against Ole Miss in Pearl. The Eagles host Middle Tennessee in a three-game series starting at 6 p.m. on Friday.