While their calls on the field might be occasionally debated, the value of umpires to softball in The Villages is anything but.

In charge of policing more than 80 teams across a dozen leagues in The Villages Recreation and Parks Department’s recreational softball program, the volunteer on-field officials are tasked with more than just ball, strike, out or safe calls — they’re expected to keep games on time and regulated without incident.

With a force stronger than 200 officiating the community’s softball circuit — and an open-door recruitment for even more — umpires, the majority of which are Villages residents, are largely credited with keeping the department’s softball program operating.

Read this story and many others in Thursday's edition of the Daily Sun.