By Robert Wilson

Hartfield Academy senior outfielder and Mississippi State signee Colton Bradley – a member of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team – will miss the rest of the season after having ankle surgery this week, Hartfield coach Justin Smith said.

Bradley injured his ankle against Bayou Academy on March 10. At the time of his injury, Bradley was hitting .353 with four doubles, three home runs, 16 runs scored and 18 runs batted in in 13 games. 

“Colton is certainly a player that is difficult to replace,” first-year Hartifield coach Justin Smith, who was promoted from associate coach when head coach Chuck Box to a job as director of player personnel at Texas A&M this past summer. “Depending on certain situations, it could be different guys filling his role. The amount of experience and raw talent he brought to the team is not going to be replaceable. Other guys will have to step up and be the best versions of themselves with their opportunities.”

Photo by Robert Smith

Bradley hit .436 with 58 runs, 46 runs batted in, 14 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 34 stolen bases and a .506 on-base percentage and helped Hartfield to a 35-4 record and a MAIS Class 4A state runner-up finish last season as a junior. The Hawks won 34 consecutive games, three wins short of the MAIS record. Bradley led Hartfield in runs, RBIs, home runs and stolen bases. He was a first-team selection on the Priority One Bank Metro Jackson Baseball Team for the second straight season. Bradley was one of two juniors in Mississippi (his Hartfield teammate Lincoln Sheffield was the other) to be named to the Collegiate Baseball All-American teams last season.

Bradley isn’t the only injured starter. Senior third baseman and Hinds Community College signee Bran Boyd has been out with a back injury, but returned last week. Boyd led the team with a .469 batting average, 19 doubles and 30 walks last season. 

Box led Hartfield to a school record 35 victories, only four losses and its second state championship runner-up finish in four seasons last year. Hartfield lost its first two games of the season before winning 34 straight games, three wins short of the MAIS record of most consecutive wins in a season, 37 set by Magnolia Heights in 2013.

Smith has guided Hartfield to a 15-4 record and defeated Presbyterian Christian School 9-1 Tuesday night in Hattiesburg in the first MAIS Class 6A conference game of the season and in Hartfield’s school history since moving up to 6A this year. Hartfield plays host to PCS (11-8 overall and 0-1 in league play) Friday in a doubleheader at Hartfield. Hartfield plays four-time defending state champion Jackson Prep in a three-game conference series next week.