One More Win Before Regionals
TXRG gets tested but not bested by Bay Area Derby road team
By Richard Whittaker,
11:35AM, Wed. Sep. 9, 2009
On Sunday night, after the Texecutioners beat the visiting Bay Area Derby Girls, Texas Rollergirl Crackerjack grinned broadly. "Guess how many times I went to the penalty box?" she asked. "Zero!"
Why's that important? Because when one of the feistiest Texas Rollergirls can play a heavy-hitter squad like Bay Area, win, and win clean, that sends a message to the derby community: The Texecutioners are disciplined and they want a national title.
Sunday night's West Coast visitors were TXRG's last opponents before the Women's Flat Track Derby Association holds its South Central regionals in Atlanta at the end of the month. As such, it was the last chance for experimentation before the real fight for a slot, and a good bracket position, at nationals in November.
But Bay Area weren't in town to grease their wheels. No pack with Demanda Riot and Velveteen Savage is going to go down easy, and Texas were in for a tough time against a notoriously aggressive and unrelenting team.
From the moment they took the track – no intro, no skater shout-outs – it was clear that the San Fran crew were there for business. A slightly mistimed blocking maneuver from Shank gave B.A.D. Girl Burlybot the opportunity to put two unanswered points on the board for Bay Area. Initially, it seemed like Texas was going to make that a one-off, with Olivia Shootin' John, Lucille Brawl, and freshman The Angie Christ nailing four points a piece in successive jams for a 12-2 lead: But then Bay Area reminded everyone exactly why they have earned their reputation as one of the defining high-impact derby teams.
First Oakland Outlaw Jane Hammer blew past Morphine, and while Texas struggled to get her through the pack for a first pass, Hammer thrashed ahead for eight points. With Astronaughty adding one to cut the TXRG lead to 12-11, Texas needed a break.
Fortunately for the home crowd, they got one when Sassy Slayher got the first of her four trips to the penalty box for the night. Never one to miss an opportunity, OSJ scored a double grand slam, putting Texas ahead 22-12. Again, the home crowd started to breathe a sigh of relief, and again it was too early.
Bay Area's tactic seemed to be simple: Hit hard, hit often, hit early. A succession of tight jams where they held the lead jammer status locked up meant they started to close the gap. That run included a rested Sassy taking it straight out of the penalty box from Morphine. Texas stalled on 24, while Bay Area moved closer.
Then Jane Hammer proved her worth again, throwing nine points up on the board and giving Bay Area a two point lead, 24-26.
What followed can only be called a meat grinder, with blockers targeting each other as much as the jammer. That continued until Morphine's nine-point sprint broke the impasse, while Angie, OSJ and Cat Tastrophe all rounded out the first half with grand slams to put Texas ahead 53-26.
Think it was over? Guess again.
For the first eight jams of the second period, it looked like Texas had the visitor's number, racking up 12 points to seven and steadily stacking up their advantage for a 65-33 lead. But the B.A.D. Girls found a second wind, and started reversing the differential. First, they crept closer, but then Texas gave them the opportunity they needed. Future hall-of-famer Rice Rocket took a trip to the penalty box, only to find it already full. That was all Astronaughty needed to close the gap, scoring a full twelve points and two grand slams on an almost empty track.
Yes, somehow Texas had gone from a 27 point lead at the end of the first half to only ten in 16 jams. And as anyone in the derby world will tell you, a ten point lead is no lead at all.
After some experimentation with a slow pack (never a Texas strong point, but they're learning) failed to break the Bay Area offensive, it came to down to thirty seconds on the clock and only an 83-77 lead. With Bay Area's proven ability to pull out a massive burst of point scoring when the pressure is on, that was too close for comfort.
So what did Texas do? Strategize. With Rice Rocket on the line against Astronaughty, it was all about shutting the jam down, not expanding the lead: So that was exactly what she did. A quick step into the lead gave Rice all she needed – lead jammer status. The clock ran out, and she called the jam, the period, and the bout for an 83-77 final score.