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Roanoke College boasts strong veteran leadership entering ODAC Final Four

Maroons play Shenandoah Thursday at Salem Kiwanis Field

SALEM, Va. – Veteran leadership is paying off at Roanoke College. At 16-6 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, much of the Maroons success on the diamond can be contributed to 12 seniors who helped propel the program into what it is today.

"They were our first recruiting class that we recruited to the stadium. They've won over 100 wins. They've maintained over a 3.0 team GPA. All of them graduated. Just awesome guys. That's what you want your sons to grow up to be like. Super fortunate to coach all of them. They've been huge for us," said Roanoke College baseball coach Matt McGuire.

This team is no stranger to tough competition. In 2017 the Maroons won the ODAC and South Regional tournaments and advanced all the way to the Division III World Series Final Four. 

"It's really big having that experience with most of our guys having played in the World Series. We've been on big stages, and we know what it's like to play in big games and just staying calm and not letting the moment get too big," said Maroons outfielder Scott Ellis.

"They know we can do it. They were sophomores on that team.  As coaches, we told them all along that we have that capability and ability to do that. And then they go out and do it, especially their sophomore year. In the back of their mind, they're confident and know if we get hot and play the way we've been playing the last few weeks that anything is possible in postseason baseball," added McGuire.

This season, riding a five-game winning streak, the No. 2 seed Maroons meet No. 3 seed Shenandoah in the ODAC Final Four. These teams have recent history. The Hornets ended Roanoke's season in the conference tournament a year ago. That loss is still in the back of their minds. 

"I'd be lying to you if I said that it wasn't. That was a tough stretch for all of us. Between playing so many games and the weather we had to go through, no excuses there but we're looking for something this year to make up for what happened there," said Maroons infielder Cody Shell.

Roanoke College hopes to avenge that loss and use their experience to their advantage in the first game of the double-elimination tournament. They'll continue their conference title quest at 8 p.m. Thursday at Salem Kiwanis Field.