The softball fields at Verona Community Park next to the Eagle’s Nest Ice Arena will be packed Wednesday and Thursday mornings beginning May 1.

The Greater Madison Senior Softball league will return to Verona this year, with games beginning May 1 and running through Aug. 29. The league, which began at Goodman Park in Madison in 2010, moved to Verona last year.

League co-founder Bob Ruhland, who lives in Fitchburg, told the Press there will be about 200 players this season. The league allows men 55 and older to get exercise and make new social connections, Ruhland said, adding that “it’s the friendships” that make the league worthwhile.

“Without that, you retire and you just have your own circle of friends,” he said. “Now we have more friends.”

The games begin at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. both days. Ruhland said it’s mostly players’ families that come to watch, but anyone is welcome to watch the players “forget that they’re 65 years old and … make a diving catch.”

“If they want to see a bunch of seniors having fun, come on out and watch us,” he said. “They’ll be impressed with the caliber of play of some of these guys.”

The league uses a special softball, according to a news release, called “The Clincher.”

“This modified softball makes it more difficult to hit long drives and keeps the action contained inside the park,” the release states. “Also, base runners are allowed to overrun second and third base, and have a commitment line 20 feet from home plate.”

The rosters include seven players from Verona. Ruhland said everyone will play with full effort.

“They’ve got pride in their ability, and they want to play,” he said. “You have that instinct to want to do well.”

For information on the league, visit greatermadisonseniorsoftball.com.

Contact Scott Girard at ungreporter@wcinet.com and follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.