Leader of the Pack

Texas Rollergirls go heavy on the D for second bout

Leader of the Pack
Photo by Richard Whittaker

It's no secret in Roller Derby that it's the jammers that get all the points and all the glory. Yet Sunday night's Texas Rollergirls' double header put the emphasis on the blockers, as the packs made the difference in both bouts.

The evening started with the two teams with a 2010 victory under their belt, as the reigning champs the Hotrod Honeys faced the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers. Actually, the evening started with the traditional first whistle blow being replaced by a bell ring, courtesy of League of Bicycling Voters executive director Tom Wald. There was also a little extra star power in the crowd, courtesy of Olympic Bronze Medal-winning short track speed skater Jordan Malone but, like everyone else, he was concentrating on the Roller Derby.

It was always going to be a tough night for the Heartbreakers: The gingham cowgirls came in under strength, with an 11 player bench due to injuries. The Hotrods, on the other hand, looked relaxed and in charge from the first jam as Lucille Brawl opened the evening with an unanswered grand slam. A pinch-hit jammer two years ago, now she's one of the most reliable scorers on the line.

But the Hearbreakers have a little trick up their fringed sleeve called Shortcut, who beat fellow rookie and Rec-N-Rollerderby alum Haus the Boss out of the pack on jam 2 to pick up lead jammer status. For the first period, she was the Heartbreakers' most reliable jammer and their highest scorer, picking up 8 of 15 points. That's saying something, because this was one of the toughest and least forgiving packs in recent league history. The Heartbreakers seemed to realize that the Hotrods, with their deep bench, needed to be taken down early for them to have any chance, and so there was no quarter asked or given.

It was an effective strategy. Even thought the Hotrods picked up lead jammer status 8 out of the first 13 jams, the Heartbreakers held them to only 34 points in the opening period through sheer power blocking. Any time Booty Queen and Collins could form a wall up front they were immovable and seemingly impossible to pass, while Shay-Lo put the impact into impact player.

But with a short roster, it was a challenge for the Heartbreakers to keep that pace up, and in the second period the Hotrods just had fresher legs. When Heartbreaker One Trick Pony went to the box, I Candye took advantage of an open track to put three grand slams and 17 points on the board, leapfrogging the Hotrods' lead from a reachable 44-18 advantage to a seemingly insurmountable 43 point differential, 61-18. From there it was a steady grind through to the final jam where Voodoo Doll, assisted by a whip from Shank, put up the last four points to give the Hotrods an 80-26 victory and their second win of the season.

Meanwhile, the contenders in the second bout were both looking for their first win in the 2010 regular season. The Hustlers gave the Hotrods a tough challenge last month, but the Hell Marys were placing a lot of their hopes on bombshell new recruit Luce Bandit. In a change of tempo from the rough-and-tumble first bout, she and Acute Angel sounded each other out cautiously for a scoreless first jam. Seems the Hustlers found their opponents' measure first, as the increasingly reliable Molotov M. Pale scorched past The Killa Sal Monella for a double grand slam and a 14-0 scoreline.

That moment set the Hustlers' mood for the night, varying from scoreless jams to sudden point explosions, while the Hells were stuck dragging out singles and doubles. Again, it all came down to blocking. The difference was that the Hells would find themselves suddenly facing a massive drive that would overwhelm them, such as Acute Angel's massive 22 point jam in the second period. The Hustlers, by contrast, were prepared to just slow down the progress and let the Heartbreakers pick up the points where they could.

It was only in the closing minutes of the second period that the Hells found real momentum, with Luce and Speedyrella wracking up 25 points in six jams. Unfortunately for them, Acute had left the Hustlers so far ahead, and veteran blocker Belle Starr's ability to sit on a jammer had kept the Hells too far behind. Even though the Hustlers' scoring slowed in the second period, they finished convincingly ahead, 71-38.

So what does this mean for the championship picture? With the Hells now 0-2 for the season, that places them out of contention. However, the Hustlers and the Honky Tonks, both now 1-0, have a shot at joining the Hotrods in the title bout in July. They'll be facing off on May 23 in what may be the most fiercely fought battle of the year. The Heartbreakers will try to reverse their fortunes from tonight, but Hustlers want their rematch with the Hotrods from last year's championship. Tickets for the next bout are available now.

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