The Austin Chronicle

Hotrods, Hell Marys for TXRG Championship

By Richard Whittaker, July 7, 2008, 12:31pm, The Score

So now it's settled. The Hotrod Honeys will face the Hell Marys for the Texas Rollergirls' championship on August 3.

It took the Honeys handing a definitive and season-ending defeat to the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers on Sunday night at Playland Skate Center, in the last pre-championship bout of the season. Coming in, there was a ray of light for the Heartbreakers. If they could not just beat the Honeys, but do it with an 18 point margin, then they would be going to the championship: and 18 points isn't a lot in flat track roller derby. They also had the momentum of a recent 135-116 away win, against the Women's Flat Track Derby Association #25 ranked Mile High Club in Denver, CO on June 13. But the Honeys had the advantage, because anything short of a huge upset put them in striking distance of the title.

The Heartbreakers set their crosshairs on one target: Rice Rocket. The Honey's talented jammer, who is talked about in reverential terms in other leagues, had to be denied lead jammer status at all costs. so the Heartbreakers set their own speed demon, Olivia Shootin' John, against Rice whenever they could, and it paid off. In their seven match-ups, she deprived Rice of the all-important lead jammer status three times, which is no mean record.

But it took the Heartbreakers until jam five to score, by which time Cat Tastrophe and Rocket had racked up four a piece for the Honeys. The gingham-clad Heartbreakers seemed to be making some headway to trail the ladies in silver and black by a tantalizing 12. But from there until the break, the Honeys locked them down, coming out of the first period 19-41.

That meant the Heartbreakers now had to put on 22 points just to dig themselves to a tie, and 40 for the big win they needed. For a while, in the beginning of the second period, it looked like they could do it. The Honeys came out to face a seemingly indomitable defense, a solid wall they could only bounce off.

In the next six jams, the Heartbreakers narrowed the gap to 44-40: only four points from a tie, and 22 from the magic super-upsetter win. But the pace they set for themselves was unsustainable, and for the last eight jams they could get neither lead jammer nor points as the Honeys cruised to a 76-40 final score, and a championship slot.

Not that the Marys could take the evening easy. They faced possibly the stiffest touring competition to roll into Playland this season, in the form of the North West Arkansas Killbillies from Springdale, AR. The Killbillies were fast, cohesive and aggressive. In the first period, they managed the rare achievement of out-strategizing an Austin team on their home ground: no mean achievement for the #33 ranked team.

Arkansas jammer Mellow Yellow put the pressure on from the first whistle, forcing Bloody Mary to call the jam with only one point scored. The Killbillies trailed 34-84 going into half time, but they'd made the Marys fight for every point. In the second period, the visitors put 40 points on the board – only two less than the Marys in the same time. Jammers Blazen Glory and JoAnn of Arc impressed, with JoAnn scoring an incredible 17 points in a single jam. It fell to the Mary's Sparkle Plenty and Flame & Rage to blunt their point-scoring by good tactical use of lead jammer status. But great as the Killbillies were, their fate had been sealed by the massive lead the Marys took in the first period, leaving the home team with a 128-77 victory.

Both match-ups were hard fought: Lady X of the Marys and Cherry Crush of the Honeys both ended up on the medics' bench after bad pile-ups, while Vicious Van Go Go had to get her fingers taped up after the bout. Plus the final Honeys/Marys jam broke down into a fight, which is always disappointing. But all eyes are set on August 3, when the title will be settled.

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