Assistant Florida State softball coach Travis Wilson continued to push the program to new heights in 2014 as the Seminoles reached the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2004.
Entering his fourth season on staff at FSU, Wilson has helped Florida State into a national offensive presence. The 2014 Seminoles posted a 55-9 record and earned the ACC regular season title with a 24-3 mark. The 24 ACC wins set a new school and ACC record for conference wins in a season and gave the Seminoles the No. 1 seed on their way to winning their 12th ACC Tournament Championship.
Under Wilson’s guidance, the Florida State lineup was dangerous from top to bottom and saw many players recognized for their success. Maddie O’Brien set new single-season school records for home runs (24), RBI (83), walks (56) and slugging percentage (.942) on her way to being named an NFCA First Team All-American and ACC Player of the Year. Courtney Senas was named to the NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team would have set school records in home runs (15) and RBI (57) if not for her teammate, as both totals were more than any Seminole had hit prior to the 2014 season.
As a team, the Seminoles set program records in runs scored (400), home runs (65), extra base hits (168), RBI (363), walks (318) and slugging percentage (.493). These marks eclipsed several records that were set during the impressive 2013 campaign that saw FSU reach its first NCAA Super Regional since 2006.
Wilson helped Florida State achieve record-breaking numbers in just his second season as the Seminoles shattered the previous home run record of 49 in 2007 by producing 60 round-trippers in 2013. For the first time ever, four Seminoles finished with double-digit home runs including Courtney Senas (14), Kelly Hensley (13), Maddie O'Brien (10) and Celeste Gomez (10).
Florida State's 316 RBIs set a school record, topping the previous mark of 313 in 2004. The 2013 squad also set a program record for slugging percentage at .476, were able to win 17 games by mercy rule and recorded 20 games with double-digit base hits.
Wilson also oversees the team's fielding and with early-season injuries in 2013 throwing players into makeshift positions, Wilson worked arduously with each infielder and outfielder on their mechanics and created a well-accomplished group that got the job done.
Joining fellow assistant coach Craig Snider as the team's offensive instructors, Wilson helped the Seminoles make strides at the plate in their debut 2012 year. Coaching a youthful unit that included just one everyday senior starter, Wilson also made a great impact on the team's defensive game as it became a sound group in the field.
In 2012, the Seminoles finished the year with a .966 fielding percentage to rank in the upper echelon on a national scale. FSU became an entertaining group to watch defensively as student-athletes such as third baseman Briana Hamilton, shortstop Maddie O'Brien, second baseman Tiffani Brown and centerfielder Courtney Senas made a bevy of highlight-reel plays throughout the season. A fundamentally-sound unit of infielders and outfielders collectively produced both the routine and difficult plays.
It was the solid play of FSU's defensive stalwarts that helped the Seminoles begin the 2012 season with a 16-0 record, the second-best start in school history. The 16-game win streak ties for the 12th longest winning stretch for the program.
Wilson is seen as an excellent instructional mind by FSU's student-athletes, which was evident from the first day of practice in the fall 2011. He is a reliable arm for batting practice who is always offering excellent teaching points to better enlighten each player. Wilson has proven to be an absolute student of the game who utilizes various statistics in his meticulous game-day preparation.
Wilson is a native of New Zealand who has already taken on an important role in recruiting. The baseball, softball and cricket veteran serves as the Seminoles' hitting and fielding coach, using his past success as a player to better serve his student-athletes.
"Travis is from both professional baseball and the New Zealand National Program," head coach Lonni Alameda said when Wilson first arrived in the summer 2011. "From the first time I met Travis I knew he would be a great fit for our program. It is not often you come across someone that has played the same game that the girls do and yet has 10 years of Major League Baseball experience. He is personable and he has won at the highest level of this game from the men's side. He has played every position you can on the field and has been among some of the world's best in men's fastpitch. I believe Travis will be able to relate to the players on a unique level as he stills plays the game. He is excited about this opportunity and can help our program get to the next level."
Alameda's words have become prophetic so far, with Wilson doing an excellent job of working with each student-athlete and enhancing their overall game. In just three seasons of work, countless players have improved their batting average and expanded their defensive abilities through the work of Wilson.
From 1996-2004, Wilson played seven seasons in the Atlanta Braves organization covering all stops from Rookie Ball to Triple-A. He enjoyed much success in his professional stint, being named an All-Star for the Appalachian League (1998), South Atlantic League (1999) and the Carolina League (2000). He was named Carolina League Player of the Year for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and led the Grapefruit League in hitting for the Braves during spring training in 2001.
Wilson ended his professional career in 2004 with the Cincinnati Reds' organization in Chattanooga, Tenn. As a softball player in New Zealand for the Black Sox, he made his debut as a 16-year old in 1994 and was named both the New Zealand Softballer of the Year and the Canterbury Softballer of the Year after posting a team-best .396 batting average in 1996. He would earn the Canterbury Player of the Year honor multiple times and become one of his country's biggest softball ambassadors. He continues to play today.
Wilson's most recent baseball stint was as an instructor for the Idaho Falls, a Rookie League team of the Kansas City Royals. His tasks included scouting the Pioneer League, writing reports and utilizing video while communicating with the Royals organization on several prospects. His efforts have helped the Royals claim their status of having the best farm system in Major League Baseball, as asserted by several minor-league publications. On the field, he helped his players develop their infield/outfield skills, base running and hitting mechanics. Wilson also served as expert commentator for the ISF Men's World Softball Series, and was fielding coach and video analyst for the Black Caps of the New Zealand Cricket Association.
Wilson is married to his wife, Jill. The two have a son named Tyler.