Jennifer Rocha has made a name for herself as one of the top pitching instructors in the country.
While at Florida, Rocha has tutored three All-American hurlers in Stephanie Brombacher, Stacey Nelson and Hannah Rogers. In two of the last five years, the Gators have turned in the top team ERA in the country, while boasting the seventh-best mark in the NCAA in 2012, to go with a SEC-leading 1.44 ERA.
After tutoring both Nelson and Brombacher to successful careers donning the Orange and Blue, Rocha led 2011 freshman righty Hannah Rogers to second-team All-America honors, as Rogers became just UF’s second freshman All-American, the first Florida pitcher to garner the honor.
Rogers, who boasts a 64-16 overall record through her first two seasons, shattered freshman records for wins, starts, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts, appearances and innings pitched. The rising junior, who racked up All-America honors in 2012 for the second-consecutive season, has three career one-hitters in her young career.
Already in just her freshman season, 2012 first year pitcher and first baseman Lauren Haeger, a NFCA All-Southeast Region first-team pick, has worked her way into the career record books after registering a 1.85 ERA, 7.24 strikeouts per seven-inning game and a 15-5 record her first season on campus.
In 2008 under Rocha’s watch, Florida set a then-program-best 0.92 ERA for the second-lowest ERA in the nation and in 2009, UF’s 0.69 ERA was the lowest in the nation, the Southeastern Conference and the Florida record book.
The 2008 and 2009 seasons were record-breaking years for the pitching staff. In 2008, 34 UF pitching records were broken, including 15 team records. Rocha’s pitchers earned the top spot in the record books for wins (70) and tied for innings pitched (512.1). In 2009, the pitching staff broke 24 records, including 12 team records, such as ERA (0.69), strikeouts (547), shutouts (39) and hits allowed (250).
In 2010, Rocha coached a young pitching staff to the second-best ERA (2.20) in the SEC. UF allowed the second-fewest runs and earned runs in the league, Brombacher led the SEC in wins (35) . Under Rocha, Brombacher tossed the fourth perfect game in UF history in 2010 and returned with her second perfect contest to kick off her senior season in 2011.
Pitchers under Rocha’s tutelage grace many pages of the Florida record books. Nelson, the first pitcher in UF history to earn multiple All-American accolades (2007, 2008, 2009), holds 15 career pitching records and is on 12 other top-10 career lists. A four-year student under Rocha, Nelson left Florida with the lowest career ERA (0.99) and most strikeouts (1,116). She also tallied the most wins (136) in Florida history, among other records.
In 2008, Nelson garnered ESPN The Magazine First-Team Academic All-America honors, becoming the first player in school history to earn both All-American and Academic All-America honors in the same season. She then repeated the feat one year later. Nelson was also named SEC Pitcher of the Year and NFCA All-Southeast Region first team in 2008 and 2009.
Brombacher ranks third all-time for fewest walks allowed (1.78 per 7 innings) and strikeouts per seven innings (7.05) after her four years of suiting up in the Orange and Blue. She holds the highest winning percentage in UF history as she went 42-0 record in her first two seasons, 35-8 her junior year and 20-3 her senior year in 2011 for a 97-11 (.898) overall record. Brombacher has All-SEC accolades, making the second team as a sophomore and first team as a junior, and garnered NFCA All-Southeast and All-American honors in 2009 and 2010. She was also the only sophomore on the ESPN The Magazine /Capital One Academic All-District III first team and the first Gator sophomore to be an Academic All-American. She earned repeat honors as a junior and senior with Academic All-American and District III honors.
In 2007, then-senior Stacey Stevens, with two season pitching under Rocha, finished her career as the program leader in nine categories including wins (74), strikeouts (624) and strikeouts looking (186), now ranking third in all three categories.
Rocha came to Florida and took a veteran junior pitcher and two freshmen and worked them into a confident and experienced staff able to help the Gators to wins over some of the nation’s top ranked teams. With Rocha’s guidance, Nelson set several Florida freshman records, while earning SEC All-Freshman team honors. She also led the Gators to their first-ever win over a No. 1 team, as she recorded the win over defending national champion Michigan. Stevens led the pitching staff in several categories and put herself in the position to break many school records in her final season.
Rocha made the trip to Gainesville with current head coach Tim Walton, as the two have worked together for nine years. Under Rocha, the Shockers pitching staff set several school records and posted an earned run average of under 2.00 for two consecutive seasons. Their 1.46 ERA in 2004 was the lowest in program history. The pitching staff struck out over 400 batters in each Rocha’s final two seasons, with one individual recording over 200. In 2005, the Shockers’ top pitchers registered records of 20-8 and 22-8 and each had a 1.52 ERA in 202.1 and 180.0 innings pitched.
“Jennifer is a great pitching coach,” Walton said. “She has a calm, collected presence about her. She is a good teacher, as well as a good game-day coach.”
Rocha was an assistant coach at Oregon for a year before going to WSU. She began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma in 1999.
Rocha is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and played for the Sooners from 1996 to 1998. During her time as both a player and a coach, Rocha was a part of six consecutive NCAA Regional appearances, three Big 12 Conference titles, two Big 12 Tournament titles, two WCWS appearances and one national championship. She finished her playing career with a .721 winning percentage (43-17) and posted a 1.46 ERA.
Prior to arriving at Oklahoma, Rocha played for Long Beach City College (LBCC) softball team for one season. She earned California Junior College Athletic Association (CJCAA) All-American honors in 1995 after leading LBCC to the California State Championship. She posted a 24-0 record and a 0.42 ERA while at LBCC.
Rocha earned a degree in sociology from Oklahoma in 1999 and her master’s in human relations in 2001.
The former Jennifer Jaime married Paul Rocha in November 2006. The couple resides in Gainesville.
The Rocha File
2006-present - University of Florida, Assistant Coach
2003-05 - Wichita State University, Assistant Coach
2002 - University of Oregon, Assistant Coach
1999-01 - University of Oklahoma, Graduate Assistant Coach
1998 - Virginia Roadsters, Women's Professional Softball League
1996-98 - University of Oklahoma, three-year letterwinner
1995 - Long Beach City College, California Junior College Athletic Association All-American
University of Oklahoma, Bachelor of Arts in sociology, 1999
University of Oklahoma, Master's in Human Relations, 2001
Husband - Paul Rocha