Their decisions are final. Their hand signals are crisp and clear.
Twice a week, half of Lovelock heads to McDougal Park to play softball with the other half. People bond over their ability to hit a ball with a stick, run bases, catch, throw and tag.
The town loves sports, and softball is a favorite.
But who makes the judgment calls? Fair or foul? Out or safe? Ball or strike? Often the choice comes down to fractions of a second or inches.
This season, Lisa Pontius, Bruce Medeiros and Bill Gorsline stepped up as umpires for the Lovelock Softball Association (LSA). Pontius and Medeiros are regular fixtures at the coed softball games. Gorsline pitch-hits as needed.
Umping can be a tough job. Tempers flare even at the Little League level. Nationwide, school sports face a shortage of officials. Everyone’s a critic.
But Medeiros and Pontius take their duties in stride. On Thursday night, Pontius’s eyes tracked each pitch from launch to landing. On the next field, Medeiros kept up an easy banter with both teams.
“I call ‘em like I see ‘em,” he says.
Medeiros began by umping Little League for his boys. Last season, he played on LSA’s county team. He and his wife, Barrie, decided to spend the 2019 season as spectators. But their retirement didn’t last long.
Jared Jensen, the LSA president, asked Medeiros to umpire. Meanwhile, Barrie picked up a scorecard and never looked back. Jensen also invited Pontius and Gorsline to ump.
A lifelong player, Pontius first certified as a softball umpire in 1985
“I packed a baby along to my early games,” she says. Her daughter, Jordan McKinney, grew up on the ball field. Today McKinney coaches the Lady Mustangs softball team.
“We cannot thank the umpires enough for giving up their time to come out and help us,” says Jensen.
On Friday, July 19, the LSA hosts its first Home Run Derby from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Men’s and women’s brackets will compete for prizes.
There will also be a children’s baserunning event and a horseshoe tournament.
The concession stand will sell carne asada tacos. All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Shaun McIntee family.