PHOENIX — Brent Barry is back in the coaching box, hoping to bring consistency to a Phoenix High program in which he's the fifth coach in as many years.

PHOENIX — Brent Barry is back in the coaching box, hoping to bring consistency to a Phoenix High program in which he's the fifth coach in as many years.

Barry, the school's vice principal, previously was a head coach for two seasons at North Medford High, twice guiding the Black Tornado to the state quarterfinals. Before that, he was an assistant coach at North under his wife, Sara, then under Larry Binney, who directed the Tornado to the state title in 2002.

"He's been around awhile and relates really well to the girls," said Phoenix Athletic Director Neill Carvalho. "I'm really looking forward to his fundamentals. Also, the helpers he has will be a real asset. He has contacts in the community where he can bring in people to help with pitching and hitting and whatever areas people need."

Barry began working at Phoenix in 2004. He succeeds Casey Brown, who was preceded by Seanna Doyle, Brent Watts and Molly Pendergast.

Barry doesn't know how long he'll be in place, but he hopes it's long enough to build stability. When he does give the reins to someone else, he'd like them to have similar philosophies.

He admits he's had an itch to get back into coaching for some time.

"I miss it, first of all," said Barry. "We have a good team at Phoenix, and I've thought about it the last couple years. We've kind of been going through some softball coaches here, and this year, the timing is a little better for me. I think I have some things to offer to help establish a pretty solid program. I learned a great deal in my time at North, and I'm kind of excited to get in the sun and see what we can do this spring."

The Pirates return the majority of last year's team that placed third in the Skyline Conference with an 8-7 record and lost in the first round of the state playoffs to Newport. They were 12-16 overall.

Phoenix returns seven of nine starters, Barry said, and he has three pitchers — a senior, junior and sophomore — who will challenge for innings.

"It's a good position to be in, being a new coach," he said. "There's no predetermined anything here. You go out and win your position."

There should be spirited battles in that regard.

"I've seen these girls the last four years," said Barry. "We have really good talent and some pitchers who can throw strikes. We really have a lot of good girl athletes going through our school right now, so it's kind of an exciting time for female sports."

One of Barry's main priorities is to revive off-season Amateur Softball Association teams to act as a feeder program to the high school. As it is, Phoenix's players are committed to other teams throughout the valley.

He'll start with 14- and 12-under teams this summer, then hopes to add older squads later.

"I've seen it be so important in high school programs," he said.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com