Kyle resident Karina Rocha is no stranger to winning.
As a freshman at Hays High, Rocha held a starting spot when the program claimed the 2013 state softball title; she helped the program return to state that next season.
Lately, Rocha’s talent on the field helped the Angelo State University Rambelle softball team reach back-to-back Division II College World Series appearances in 2017 and 2018.
As she enters her junior campaign in 2019, Rocha plans to put in more work and become a vocal leader for a program searching for a national title. Her background is what she believes will provide guidance in her own quest for success.
“Going to state my first two years in high school really helped me stay calm when we went to the World Series,” Rocha said. “I mean there is a big competition difference, but that experience definitely helped me there.”
During her sophomore season at ASU, Rocha slashed a .318 batting average with a team-leading 18 home-runs, as well as 56 RBIs. Rocha credited her focused approach at the plate and attitude to her breakout success in 2018.
“Pitch location, like being able to track a pitch when I’m in the batters box,” Rocha said. “Also staying a positive teammate, because we all need that one teammate who picks you up when your’re down during a game or having a bad practice. I’m just trying to work on seeing the ball and hitting the ball, and staying a great teammate.”
A superstitious routine has carried over from Rocha’s days at Hays High to ASU, where she will wear the same pair of socks if she recently had success in that pair. No matter the condition of the socks, even times when they have holes, Rocha will stick with that pair until her good luck is gone.
Sometimes, however, not even the most super of superstitions can shake a slump.
During the 2018 Lone Star Tournament, Rocha experienced a hitting slump that she struggled to get out of.
During ASU’s semifinal matchup versus Tarleton State, Rocha approached the plate in the bottom of the ninth with a 5-5 tie ball game and two Rambelle runners on base. Her teammates and coaches kept her motivated going into the at bat.
“Throughout the whole game I was actually struggling in the box, and my teammates and my coaches kept me positive and they were like ‘You can do it, you’ve done it before. Look for your pitch and just do you,’” said Rocha.
Rocha then cranked a walk-off, three-run home run to give the Rambelles a 8-5 victory and a trip to the Lone Star Tournament Championship.
“It was actually the first pitch she pitched me and I said “okay this is it’, and then I swang,” Rocha said. “It was an amazing feeling, it felt great to help my team get the win. I thanked every single one of my teammates for keeping me up and saying that I could do it. It was an amazing feeling.”
Rocha and the Rambelles fell short at the DII World Series after being eliminated by Southern Arkansas University.
Even after losing six seniors to graduation, Rocha has faith in next years squad. Going into the 2019 season, Rocha has focused on becoming more of a verbal leader and preaching positivity, all while focusing on getting stronger so she can keep up her batting numbers from the previous season.
Outside of being a stud on the softball field, Rocha studies Exercise and Sports Science at ASU with a minor in Psychology. Rocha aspires to become a Occupational Therapist once her softball career is finished, possibly working in the high school ranks.
“I want to help people like my therapist helped me,” said Rocha. “If occupational therapy doesn’t work out, I would love to be a coach. I would love to teach the game to other girls like my coaches did to me.”