Shortstop Caleb Bushyhead--The two-year starter for the Sooners hit .288 this year with nine doubles and three triples after sitting out the start of the season with an ACL injury. He returns as a key guy both in the lineup and as a vocal leader.
Designated hitter Evan Mistich--A JUCO transfer from Panola Junior College, Mistich hit .316 in his first season as a Sooner. He finished with six doubles, two triples and two homers and had a .419 slugging percentage.
Left fielder Max White--With the graduation of Casey Johnson, White will be expected to perform an even bigger role next year. He hit .286 with 11 doubles and three triples in 2011 and must up those numbers next season to solidify an OU lineup that loses a lot.
Pitcher Dillon Overton--The lefty shined in his freshman season, going 8-4 with a 2.30 ERA. In 74.1 innings pitched, Overton fanned 59 to just 33 walks, and he allowed just one homer all year. With the loss of ace Michael Rocha, Overton figures to have to shoulder a heavy load in 2012.
Pitcher Michael Rocha--Rocha, who earned All-American and First Team All-Big 12 honors, was nothing less than brilliant for the Sooners with his 10-3 record and 1.75 ERA this year. He tossed five complete games and one shutout, as well as striking out 82 to just 17 walks over 113 innings pitched.
Third baseman Garrett Buechele--He struggled to a .317 batting average after starting off the year in the .400s. But nonetheless, OU will lose a huge pop in its lineup with Buechele's exit. The First Team All-Big 12 recipient clubbed a team-high 63 RBI.
Catcher Tyler Ogle--Ogle, the third First Team All-Big 12 recipient for OU, was selected the highest of 11 Sooners picked in the draft and for good reason. He hit .343 with a team-high nine homers to go along with 15 doubles. And he led the club with 53 runs scored.
First baseman Cameron Seitzer--He led the team in batting average (.358), hits (76) and doubles (17). Seitzer was perhaps the most consistent player on the team throughout the year. He slugged .514 en route to racking up 41 RBI.
Why to believe OU will excel:
The Sooners still return a number of talented guys who possess great leadership like Bushyhead and Mistich. And a year of experience under his belt will only help Overton. A majority of the entitlement issues the Sooners struggled with in 2011 should be out the window with such a large amount of players getting drafted and/or leaving to graduation. That should help the team become a much more tight-knit group.
Why to believe OU will struggle:
Ignoring the obvious fact that OU loses a lot of experience is impossible. The losses of Rocha, Buechele, Ogle, Seitzer and others who won't likely return is detrimental. It's very difficult to replace the type of production of these individuals immediately, suggesting a year of rebuilding is inevitable. But head coach Sunny Golloway has continuously found ways to piece together great teams year after year, so if any coach can solve an issue of losing a plethora of talent, it's Golloway.