CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named the coaching staff for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier, highlighted by appointing three-time Team USA coach David Sharp as manager. Sharp, who has previously won two gold medals on the staff, returns for his second tenure as manager after leading the U.S. to a world championship in 2017. Joining him on the coaching staff is longtime Team USA coach Mark “Lunch” McKenzie, four-time assistant Jason Sekany, and ABCA Hall of Famer Roger Wright.
The staff will lead Team USA at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier from May 19-28 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The defending world champion United States will look to secure its spot in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup, which will take place in Tainan, Taiwan, from July 28-August 6.
“We are extremely excited about the staff we have put together for the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier,” said Cole Beeker, USA Baseball’s 12U National Team Director. “David Sharp has successfully led the 12U National Team to a world title, while Lunch McKenzie, Jason Sekany, and Roger Wright have all accomplished great things in baseball. We could not be more confident that our staff will provide unparalleled leadership in our pursuit of a gold medal next month.”
“Putting that jersey on with USA across the front is the highest honor on the baseball field,” said Sharp. “We have assembled top-notch assistant coaches and even higher quality men. The group has plenty of experience, and we look forward to welcoming a new face to the USA Baseball family. The staff does not take the job lightly and will work diligently to put the best product on the field while helping these young players learn the ‘USA Way’ on our upcoming journey.”
A three-time Team USA coach and a world champion manager, Sharp brings a bevy of international coaching experience to his second stint as manager. Sharp was on staff for three consecutive summers from 2015-2017, winning a gold medal at the 2015 and 2017 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cups as the assistant coach and manager, respectively. Following a strong tournament performance in which the U.S. went 8-1 and beat host Chinese Taipei in the title game, Sharp was named the 2017 USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year. Sharp also served as an assistant for the U.S. in 2016, helping to guide the team to a silver medal at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier.
Sharp is the Deep South Supervisor for Prep Baseball Report (PBR) Alabama. Before joining PBR, Sharp spent six seasons as the head coach at Huntsville High School (Huntsville, Ala.), where he led the Panthers to six straight playoff appearances during his time, highlighted by four 7A Area Championship titles and an appearance in the 2014 USA Baseball National High School Invitational (NHSI). Prior to becoming the head coach at Huntsville, Sharp spent nine years as an assistant on the staff and was honored as the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010.
A former member of the USA Baseball National Board of Coaching Education, McKenzie will make his fourth appearance on a national team coaching staff and first since 2008. A mainstay with USA Baseball national teams and events for over 20 years, he made his international coaching debut in 1997 with the 16U National Team. McKenzie took over as manager of the program the following summer and led the stars and stripes to a perfect 8-0 record and a gold medal at the 1998 IBAF World Youth Championships. Thanks to Team USA’s efforts that summer, the 16U National Team earned the USA Baseball Team of the Year award and McKenzie was named the USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year.
In addition to his USA Baseball experience, McKenzie was the head coach at Concordia University, St. Paul for 20 years and is the program’s all-time wins leader. He led the Golden Bears to the NCAA Central Region Tournament for the first time in program history in 2008 and compiled a 456-361-1 overall record.
A four-time 12U National Team coach, Sekany returns as pitching coach looking for a fourth gold medal in 2023. He debuted as an assistant in 2013 and returned in 2015, helping the U.S. to two world championships at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. Under Sekany’s watch, the U.S. had a 1.66 ERA and a 2.31 ERA in 2013 and 2015, respectively. He returned as pitching coach in 2018 as the U.S. staff turned in a 1.35 ERA–its second lowest in program history–en route to a gold medal at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Aguascalientes, Mexico. His most recent stint with the red, white, and blue was in 2019 when the pitching staff posted a .182 batting average against at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup.
Sekany pitched at the University of Virginia before being drafted in the second round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. He played three years in Triple-A and spent parts of the 2000 and 2001 seasons on Boston’s big-league roster. Sekany is currently the Northwest Regional Director for the USA Baseball NTIS. Additionally, he is an assistant coach at Granada High School (Livermore, Calif.) and is the founder and lead pitching instructor at TPC Baseball and The Pitching Center in Livermore, California.
Wright will make his Team USA coaching debut in May, bringing with him years of experience at the high school and collegiate levels of baseball. Wright was the head coach at Buckhorn High School (New Market, Ala.) for over two decades, taking over the program in 1997 and concluding his time with the Bucks in 2019. He amassed 453 wins at Buckhorn and led the Bucks to a combined 14 Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) state playoff appearances, including eight at the 5A level and six at the 6A level. In addition, Wright spent two seasons as the pitching coach at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) from 2015-2016 before returning for one more season following his retirement from Buckhorn in 2019. At UAH in 2020, he helped lead the Chargers to an NCAA South Regional appearance.
Wright was named the Huntsville Metro Coach of the Year five times and, after over 20 years of service to baseball in the state of Alabama, was inducted into the Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016 and the ABCA Hall of Fame in 2022. Additionally, his son, Kyle, played for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2016 and is currently a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.
12U National Team Training Camp will take place from May 13-15 in Flower Mound, Texas, featuring three days of intrasquad games, on-field workouts, and more. The final 18-man national team roster will be announced on May 15.
The 12U National Team has won five gold medals in international competition, most recently winning gold at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in 2022. Additionally, the U.S. has medaled in all three WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers it has competed in, earning silver medals in 2014 and 2016 before capturing gold in 2018. Overall, the 12U National Team owns a 23-4 all-time record at WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers.
The schedule for the 2023 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier will be announced at a later date.