- Jennifer Rocha
Assistant Coach – 10th season at Florida
- 17th season as assistant coach
- Oklahoma ‘98
Jennifer Rocha has made a name for herself as one of the top pitching instructors in the country. In her nine seasons at Florida, Rocha has tutored four All-American hurlers in Stephanie Brombacher, Stacey Nelson, Hannah Rogers and Lauren Haeger. In two of the last seven years, the Gators have turned in the top team ERA in the country and the 2014 national championship season kept the bar high as Florida posted the top ERA in the SEC (1.96) for the second consecutive year, a figure that ranked 15th in the nation.
After tutoring both Nelson and Brombacher to successful careers in Orange and Blue, Rocha led Rogers to second-team All-America honors as just a freshman in 2011 after she shattered freshman records for wins, starts, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts, appearances and innings pitched. Rogers became UF’s second-ever freshman All-American and the first Florida pitcher to garner the accolade. The Lake Wales, Fla., native led the Gators to their first national title in 2014, and in the process became Florida’s first four-time All-American.
Rocha will next go to work in 2015 with incoming freshman Aleshia Ocasio, a three-time All-State selection from St. Cloud, Fla., who earned two state runner-up finishes with Harmony High School and plays shortstop and the outfield in addition to pitching.
Under Rocha’s tutelage, Rogers kept her foot on the gas, ranking among the SEC leaders during her senior season in shutouts (first, six) wins (second, 30), ERA (second, 1.60), opposing batting average (fourth, .197), innings pitched (fifth, 223.1) and strikeouts (eighth, 167). Nationally, the right-hander ranked sixth in shutouts and ninth in wins. Rogers was at her best on the biggest stage, as she compiled a 7-0 record with seven complete games (six shutouts) in eight NCAA Tournament appearances (seven starts), with a save in the championship-clinching victory over Alabama. Rogers finished her career with 127 victories, a figure that ranks second in Florida history (Stacey Nelson – 136) and made her the NCAA active career leader when she finished her tenure for the Orange and Blue.
The Gator ace posted a 48-24 record against top-25 opponents in her career. Rogers tossed three no-hitters, seven career solo one-hitters (one her freshman year, two each her sophomore, junior and senior years), owns five combined one-hitters (one in each of her first three years, with two as a senior) and a combined perfect game her junior season against Presbyterian with sophomore pitchers Haeger and Alyssa Bache.
After three years on campus, Haeger, a 2012 and 2014 NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team selection and 2013 NFCA All-America pick, boasts a 41-10 record in the circle, including a 10-9 record against top-25 opponents. Haeger threw a no-hitter against Wisconsin as a junior, and has a combined perfect game with Rogers and Bache and a career-high 11 strikeouts on four different occasions.
Freshman Delanie Gourley made an immediate impact during her debut season in Gainesville in 2014. The southpaw went 15-1 on the year with nine complete games and five shutouts, and her strikeout rate of 8.26 K/7.0 innings is the fourth-highest mark for a single season in Florida history and the highest by a freshman. The Lakeside, Calif., native tossed UF’s first postseason no-hitter when she blanked Florida A&M in the 2014 NCAA opener, and earned the win in the championship-clinching game with two scoreless innings against Alabama in Oklahoma City.
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 program annals for wins (70) and tied for innings pitched (512.1). In 2009, the Gator 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-America and Academic All-America honors in the same season. She then repeated the feat as a senior. 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 second in 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 was a two-time All-SEC selection, 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 position to break many school records in her final season.
Rocha made the trip to Gainesville with head coach Tim Walton, as the two have worked together for a decade. Under Rocha, the Wichita State pitching staff set several school records and posted an earned run average of under 2.00 in back-to-back 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 through 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