Trace Kirchberg (copy)

Columbus pitcher Trace Kirchberg is one of the returning players for the new Cardinals coach Tim Stormer. 

Bob Jansen finished his 27-year coaching career last spring with a 283-238 win-loss record for the Columbus prep baseball team, a tenure that include Capitol North Conference titles or runner-up showings in four of his last five years.

So Tim Stormer, a Jansen assistant coach who is taking over the program, conceded he feels a little pressure to maintain his former boss’ level of success.

“Yeah, a little bit,” said Stormer, who was officially approved by the school board at its Monday night meeting. “Bob did a really good job and he kept the program strong for a lot of years. So absolutely I feel a little pressure to keep the ball rolling.”

The Cardinals finished 13-8 and 5-5 in the Capitol North last season, tied for third place with Lodi while undefeated Lake Mills and Watertown Luther Prep (7-3) took the top two spots. Columbus’ season came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Markesan in a WIAA Division 3 regional final.

Stormer spent the past three seasons as an assistant under Jansen, responsible for guiding the Cardinals’ hitters while Jansen took care of the pitching staff.

“That part of it won’t change a whole lot, but handling the pitching staff will be a little bit different,” said Stormer, who learned a lot from Jansen on how to set up lineup and interact with players.

Stormer, who has coached the Columbus summer baseball program the past two years, has got a grasp of how he will handle the pitching staff because “watching how Bob did that will help going forward.”

It will also help Stormer figure out the direction in which he wants the baseball program to go.

“I think the perfect program is to be a pretty well-balanced defensive team along with the offense and pitching,” Stormer said.

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Stormer said the Cardinals are going to do more defensive drill work leading up to and during the season. He hopes to see his pitchers throw more in between starts.

“It’s going to be a work in progress,” Stormer said.

Stormer has put the Cardinals in a fall league run by the Woodall Baseball Academy, founded by former major league pitcher Brad Woodall, where they will get some offseason competition against other southern Wisconsin teams.

“That’s the first time we’ve ever done that,” Stormer said. “We’re going to develop our program that way, and we’re going to encourage kids to play … with a traveling team (during the summer) if they can. We have our program and we want them to play both if they can.”

Jim Morby, who has been an assistant for the past two seasons, will stay on the coaching staff in the spring.

Stormer said the Cardinals return a “good nucleus of kids,” and and is also excited about what he sees as an influx of talent “that’s coming up in the next few years.”

A big part of that nucleus will be a plethora of seniors to help lead the way in the spring.

“We’re going to have a pretty big senior class. They were very successful over the summer,” said Stormer, who led the Cardinals to a 14-0 record in the State Line League Baseball Association over the summer. “Over the summer, I think they figured out how to win baseball games. We need to develop more pitching, but we’re expecting to contend for a conference title next spring for sure.

“If we don’t, I think we’re going to be quite disappointed.”

Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.

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