For one night, the bright lights of Cheney Stadium will shine down on the Capital Cougars.
The Cougars even caught a glimpse of the site of tonight’s nonleague baseball game against Franklin Pierce a few weeks ago.
They were traveling on Highway 16 coming back to Olympia following their 7-2 nonleague win at Olympic.
“The bus slowed down and we said, ‘Hey, you guys get the opportunity to play there later in the year,’ ” Capital coach Eric Stark said.
That day has arrived.
On the field where the Cougars last won the state title, they will take on the Cardinals at 7 tonight at Cheney Stadium, home to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.
Admission is free.
Despite the game being held at a professional stadium, Stark said he and his team plan to treat tonight’s nonleague contest as a normal game.
“Our motto is to treat every game the same no matter what level it is,” Stark said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. Practice what we preach.”
The Tacoma Rainiers approached Capital school officials this past fall about the possibility of playing one of their nonleague games at Cheney. The Rainiers work with area schools and districts to not only promote the ballclub, but also to support schools’ athletic departments. High school teams must sell a certain number of tickets to home Rainiers games, and in return, the teams get to play one game at the stadium, Tacoma Rainiers spokesperson Geoff Corkum said.
“We offer it to many schools,” Corkum said.
This marks the second time in seven years that Capital has played a regular-season game at Cheney.
Capital defeated Foss, 6-1, on April 29, 2002. In 1998, the Cougars defeated Kennedy, 14-3, in the Class 3A state title game in that same venue.
Two years ago, Olympia played a Narrows League game against Foss at Cheney.
Capital is riding a four-game losing streak, and the Cougars’ playoff hopes ended after a 13-8 loss to North Thurston last week.
That shouldn’t downgrade tonight’s intriguing matchup. It was Franklin Pierce that knocked Capital out of the Class 3A regional playoffs last season, 3-0.
“The kids are really excited,” Stark said. “It’s a great opportunity for them, the program, the parents … It will be a lot of fun. Hopefully, we will play well.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473