"A lot of work took place," Sanders says. "I played some middle during high school so I was kind of used to it, but it's a lot different now, especially with the bats and everything. I tried to lose some weight so I could move better in the middle and gain some athleticism."
Down almost 10 pounds from last season, Sanders has transformed his body into a leaner and stronger version for his sophomore season and the results have been nothing but positive to this point. Joining forces with Arizona State transfer Matt Hall to give the Tigers a completely new middle infield, Sanders says that the experience he gathered last season should serve him well now that he'll be counted on even more in his second season.
"I'm definitely stronger mentally," Sanders says. "I feel more comfortable in the field. I'm more comfortable at the plate. I just feel more natural doing everything and letting everything be smooth."
Sanders had an exceptional first season for the Tigers.
While his final numbers were outstanding for a first-year player, Sanders wasn't without his struggles as a freshman. He says even though the lessons were tough, he feels like it helped to shape him into the player he is today.
"It was definitely difficult," Sanders says. "It was a different pace to get used to. The practice was totally different. You're used to a high school practice just going out there and doing whatever. Practice now is just like a game. You get thrown out there into things right away.
"It was definitely a lot of hard work," he adds. "I would stay in the batting cages a lot trying to get better. That really helped me out in the long run."
Last season was all too familiar for the Tigers as a strong start only served to get their hopes up heading into the conference season, but injuries and close calls led to a disappointing 0-8 start in SEC play. While the Tigers recovered to finish 10-12 the rest of the way, the damage was done. Sanders says that this season he sees a different attitude on the team and especially in the clubhouse.
"There are definitely a lot more leaders in the locker room this year," Sanders says. "Nobody wants to finish like we have in the past. Everybody is striving for better things right now."
Sanders and the Tigers have less than two weeks until an opening day matchup with East Tennessee State on Friday, Feb. 22. A new season always brings a sense of hope and for Sanders that's exactly the attitude for the team as a new day dawns at Plainsman Park.
"I'm pumped and ready to go," Sanders says. "We have worked really hard for it. I think we're ready. I think everybody on the team is really excited to get out there."