Pitcher Dillon Overton—Head coach Sunny Golloway gave him the nod as OU's ace starting off the season in the Friday night role, and while he didn't remain there and instead moved to Sunday, Overton will be charged with that role again next season. Overton managed a 6-3 record and 3.15 ERA in 22 appearances in 2012, striking out 126 and walking just 24, a five-to-one ratio.
Pitcher Jonathan Gray—He returns as the second rotation pitcher after throwing an almost identical ERA (3.16) and going 8-4 in 18 starts. Gray fanned 104 batters, while walking 42, and had the third highest innings pitched total at 102.2.
Center fielder Max White—Easily one of the biggest returnees, White led the team in batting average, .337, and doubles and total bases, with 17 and 112, respectively. He found his niche in center after starting the year at first base and really settled in with a team-high 55 RBI as well.
Second baseman Jack Mayfield—The 5-foot-10, 170-pound middle infielder had some big at bats throughout the course of the season, none bigger than his bases-clearing triple against Virginia. Mayfield ranked fifth on the team and fourth amongst regular starters with his .280 batting average, clubbing 15 doubles, second most on the team. He also hit three homers and three triples throughout the course of the season.
Designated hitter Matt Oberste—Along with Mayfield, Oberste joined the All-Big 12 Tournament Team thanks to a couple of huge home runs. One of those came against Baylor, and another came against Missouri in the Big 12 Title Game. Oberste finished the year third on the club with a .312 batting average and tied for second with six homers. He had a team-leading .536 slugging percentage amongst regular starters.
Pitcher Jordan John—He stepped up an anchored the starting rotation in a big way, beginning the season as the bridge the gap guy and turning into the Friday night starter. John, en route to becoming a sixth round draft selection and signing with the Detroit Tigers, was 8-8 with a 2.44 ERA. He threw four complete games and one out of those.
Shortstop Caleb Bushyhead—The Sooners lose a three-year starter, one of the few veterans still on this team that experienced the 2010 run to Omaha. Bushyhead provided great leadership, though he hit just .260.
Right fielder Cody Reine—Reine, along with Bushyhead and White, is another one of the players that was around for the 2010 College World Series. He provided some pop in the Sooners' lineup, hitting six home runs and 10 doubles. Reine finished with a .263 average.
Closer Steven Okert—Maybe OU's most lethal arm, Okert assumed the closer role midway through the year and did not disappoint much. He recorded five saves and posted a 3.07 ERA, striking out 78 and walking 37. Okert was selected as the highest Sooner in the 2012 MLB Draft, going in the fourth round to the San Francisco Giants.
Why to believe OU will excel:
This largely rests on the fact that two extremely solid rotation starters are returning in Gray and Overton. In today's college baseball, pitching has become so much more important with the BBCor bats, and OU will have these two to lean on. It's a power righty with a powerful, crafty lefty, making either another right-hander or left-hander as the third guy in rotation fine.There's some pop in the lineup coming back to score some runs.
Why to believe OU will struggle:
The Sooners a number of experienced guys that have tasted Omaha and deep postseason runs. OU loses four position starters, including two of its three starting outfielders in Reine and left fielder Erik Ross. Couple all that with the fact that Friday night starter John doesn't return, and it's easy to see why the 2013 season could be a long one.