Prep baseball: Tigers take in Cheney Stadium experience


TACOMA – When Jake LeDuc was informed of a potential opportunity to have his Centralia High School baseball team play at Cheney Stadium, he didn’t waste any breath to say yes.

It was relayed to him by Josh Chamberlain, the current Shelton AD, about playing the first game of a Class 2A Evergreen Conference at the home of the Tacoma Rainiers instead of Shelton.

“Let me think,” LeDuc said. “Yes, yes we do. Paperwork aside, to give these kids this experience to come up here and play on a Triple AAA field, it is awesome.”

Even in a 9-2 setback to the Highclimbers on Friday night, LeDuc walked out of the Tigers dugout looking at the positives.

As did Landen Jenkins and Tucker Weaver. Every player for Centralia and Shelton had their own walk-up song and on the screen, displayed their name and headshot.

“I enjoyed it for what it was,” Weaver said. “Some people may never get to do this again.”

Weaver earned the start and made sure to take in the atmosphere. He put his hat down after a couple warm up pitches and took deep breaths.

The right-hander gave up nine runs, but only four were earned. He settled down and at one point retired eight batters in a row.

“It was a nice experience, it was fun,” Weaver said. “Looking up in the stands, you can’t see over your bill when you’re throwing. Picking off to first (base), see all this, it is just awesome.”

Jenkins ripped one of the two hits the Tigers earned and Cohen Ballard recorded an RBI bases-loaded walk in their two-run fifth inning to light up the scoreboard.

It ended up as a surreal moment for Jenkins.

“We all came out and had a good day,” Jenkins said. “Feels a lot better.”

Jenkins and Weaver said they were made aware of the venue a couple weeks ago. There was a combo feeling of nervousness and excitement.

LeDuc is hopeful he can bring his team back in the coming years. It has turned into a semi-regular occurrence of teams in Southwest Washington to trek up to Tacoma.

Rochester and Tenino played at Cheney last spring and Tumwater will face Class 3A North Thurston in the regular season finale on May 3.

“I would expect at the end of the year, we kind of do the senior night of what do you remember?” LeDuc said. “I’ve got a feeling a lot of guys will say (getting to) play at Cheney Stadium.”