APPLETON, Wis. — Just imagine if Forrest Chadwick was healthy.

Chadwick, the University of Southern Maine’s senior center fielder, is feasting on opposing pitching at the NCAA Division III baseball championships. And he’s doing it essentially on one leg.

Chadwick suffered an injury to his left quadriceps in the finals of the Little East Conference tournament on May 10. Initially he couldn’t run and was used as a pinch-hitter. But Coach Ed Flaherty knows Chadwick’s presence in the lineup is too important for the Huskies, so he is out there in center field again. And he never stopped hitting.

Sunday, he went 3 for 4 with two runs, four RBI and a stolen base – yes a stolen base – in an 11-5 win over Baldwin Wallace. He is 8 for 13 with four runs and seven RBI through USM’s first three games in the double-elimination tournament.

“I’ve always thought Forrest is a special kid, a talented, special young man,’’ said Flaherty. “I think this is a culmination of his four years, as far as what you’re seeing in his ability. What you’re missing is his ability to run because he can do that, too.’’

Chadwick is obviously not fully recovered from his injury. He patrols the outfield with care and doesn’t push it on the basepaths. But he is ready to contribute.

“I’m good enough to play the outfield and do the things that I feel can contribute to the team,’’ he said. “I can’t put a percentage on (how healthy the leg is). But it’s getting better each day. It’s a day by day thing, and luckily I feel healthy enough now that I can play in the outfield.’’

Chadwick’s hits have come at big times. He drove in two runs in a four-run fifth inning Saturday that propelled USM to its 6-3 win over Salisbury. Sunday, he hit a two-run single to tie the game in a five-run fifth, then scored on a two-run single by Matt Verrier.

“This guy just does it all for us,’’ said Verrier, who recently compared Chadwick to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. “He’s just a clutch player. You know he’s going to put a battle up there, put the barrel on (the ball). Good things happen when he squares it up.’’

Chadwick was hitting .350 entering Sunday’s game. He is second on the team with seven home runs, first with 57 RBI and first with 57 runs.

Flaherty said he is a completely different hitter than the one who first arrived on the Gorham campus after a standout high school career at Gardiner.

“It’s taken Forrest a little while to realize what his talent is,’’ said Flaherty. “I think it’s coming into play right now. He’s a natural player.’’

Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH