Leading the charge will be pre-season All-America junior Aaron Senne who hit .347 with 13 home runs last season. Senne's power from the left side will be key to the Tigers attack this season as one of their few losses from last season was slugger Jacob Priday (16 home runs).
Also returning with Senne to anchor the middle of the line-up is senior first basemen Steve Gray. Gray is the only other Tiger who hit the double-digit mark in homers in 2008. In addition to his 10 home runs, Gray also posted a solid .317 average.
Joining junior Kyle Gibson and Senne in the All-America discussion will be junior catcher Trevor Coleman. Coleman had a breakout sophomore season as he caught 54 of the Tigers 59 games while hitting .295. In addition to his solid work with the bat, Coleman showed off his defensive skills in 2008 as he caught nearly half of all runners who attempted to steal on him.
After being selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 20th round of last year's amateur draft, it looked as if Ryan Lollis was going to be playing for a different Tigers team. However, Lollis and Detroit were unable to come to an agreement and Lollis will return for his senior season after hitting .339 in '08.
Junior Greg Folgia recorded 66 hits last season and hit .293 while mainly playing second base. The most impressive stat for Folgia however was his strong .467 slugging percentage. Of his 66 hits, 25 were of the extra-base variety. Folgia will be well served to keep up that production as he will most likely move to left field in 2009.
Replacing Folgia at second base will likely be sophomore Andrew Thigpen. Thigpen saw extended time at shortstop as a freshman when he hit .324. With the arrival of junior college transfer Mike Liberto, Thigpen will slide over to give the Tigers an improved double-play tandem up the middle.
The most likely candidate to start at the hot corner for the Tigers is senior Kyle Mach. Mach is a solid defender who hit .259 last season. Also battling with Mach for playing time will be sophomores Jonah Schmidt and T.J. Schieber. Schmidt brings plus power to the table while Schieber showed a good line-drive stroke in limited time last season.
Assuming Mach wins the job at third base, Schmidt will be in a battle with another Mach for playing time. This time Schmidt will be vying for time as the designated hitter with Kyle's younger brother Connor. As a senior in high school, Conner hit .420 with three home runs.
With Senne, Coleman, Lollis, Gray and Folgia anchoring the middle of the line-up, the Tigers have a chance to be one of the better offensive teams in the Big XII. If the Tigers are not able to take that next step offensively, it certainly won't be for a lack of experience.