The Austin Chronicle

Late-Season Lonestar Rollergirls Bout: Cherry Bombs vs. Hellcats

By Sofia Resnick, April 16, 2007, 2:35pm, The Score

As I entered the Austin Convention Center Sunday, April 15, for the Texas Roller Derby Lonestar Rollergirls' bout between the Cherry Bombs and the Hellcats, SLAB's "We Ain't Trippin'" blasted over the banked track. While I will admit that song has often come to mind when contemplating this sport, I don't think it's really apt for a Roller Derby theme song. "Whoa bitch, get out the way," to me suggests more of a one-woman-for-herself kind of sport, but the Roller Derby is in every way a team sport. It is the jammer who scores the points; however, she would not be able to without her teammates blocking and pushing her through the pack. In some bouts, the lead jammers are so damn fast and agile, and thus high scorers, that it is easy to forget how valuable the rest of the team is.

Sunday's bout was a low-scoring affair, a good example of the defense outplaying the offense. As the green-and-black-clad Cherry Bombs and hot-pink-minidress-bedecked Hellcats began rounding the track, it seemed as though the women were skating in slow motion, and the scoreboard was only lit up after the third jam, awarding three points to the Cherry Bombs.

In the entire first quarter, only 14 points were scored. Nine by the Cherry Bombs and five by the Hellcats. The ladies demonstrated serious defensive skills on both sides. In that first quarter, the jams were, for the most part, cleanly skated. That is until after the sixth jam when the Hellcats' lead jammer, Ruby Sioux, was sideswiped by Cherry Bomber Mighty Aphrodite and fell onto the rail, injuring her hand. What resulted was a conglomeration of confusion and ineptitude on the part of the referees. First the referee did not even notice the Hellcat had been injured, because jams are usually called off as soon as a player is injured, and it took the refs about a minute to call off the jam. Meanwhile, the ever-witty commentators, Tim Murphy and Mike "Wundamike" Whitely, were having a field day. "Apparently, they're [the refs] paying as much attention as we usually do. After all, there's a lot more to look at than at the game," one of them remarked. The refs goofed again, giving Mighty Aphrodite a minor penalty for illegal blocking on Rocky Casbah, her own teammate. Finally, the penalty was settled, and the energy throughout the crowd and among the players pumped up a bit. The following jam gave the slow, low-scoring play a rest and began instead with a dramatic jolt by the Hellcats' jammer. The women scuffed and swerved to the Presidents of the United States of America's "Kitty," ending in a 3-2 score in the Cherry Bombs' favor.

The pace in the second quarter continued to increase. A Cherry Bomber received the first major penalty of the evening, which led, inexplicably, to a full-out brawl between both teams. With some spunk put back in their trunks during the scuffle, both teams scored the full four points for that jam. Finally. The second half of the game proved more exciting than the first. Again, few points were scored, many jams 0-0, but as the clock ticked, the ladies strategized deviously, played harder, and accrued more penalties. The Hellcats' Dixie Sanchez, their leading rookie point-scorer of the season, made several crafty plays as lead jammer. Rocky Casbah and Mighty Aphrodite racked up points for the Cherry Bombs in the second half, but Murphy and Whitely began questioning Casbah's judgment toward the end of the bout.

By the last jam of the fourth quarter, the score was tied 22-22. The Hellcats' Annie Afterparty had received a major holding penalty, forcing the Hellcats to skate a player short. After the jam had only barely begun, Rocky Casbah took the lead and then called off the match, to the amazement of the refs, commentators, and crowd. Murphy and Whitely suggested the play was either the result of being a rookie or a testament to the fact that the Cherry Bombs love to go into sudden-death overtime. In no time, Casbah saved face by scoring the winning point of the night, ending the bout 23-22. All season long, the Cherry Bombs have been saying that 2007 will be their year. Tonight was their night, but on June 23 – only three bouts away – we shall see who reigns as Lonestar Rollergirls' champions.

For those who have never attended a TXRD match, it should be noted that before each half, one can purchase a raffle ticket, which will award a winner a seat in Spank Alley, where players must report if they receive a minor penalty. Punishments for minor penalties are determined by spinning the penalty wheel: If the arrow lands on Spank Alley, the raffle winners get to spank the naughty Derby gal with flyswatters. If the arrow lands on Reverse Spank Alley, the raffle winners get to be spanked by the rule-breaker. In other words, buy a raffle ticket. Most people don't, so there's a good chance you'll get a seat in Spank Alley. Plus, the money from the raffle goes to a scholarship fund for high school students.

The next bout for the Lonestar Rollergirls is Sunday, April 29, at the Austin Convention Center, where last year's champions, Putas del Fuego, will fight to defend their title against the Holy Rollers. Playoffs are May 12 and June 9, leading up to the Calvello Cup Championship June 23. Doors open at 6pm; tickets are $15 at the door or $13 presale.

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