The third-place match may have been billed as the “Grudge Match,” but the second semifinal was the real grudge match of the Texas Shootout — a rematch of Dust Devil’s fierce semifinal bout, where Rat City became only the second team to defeat Texas on the way to booting them out of the #1 spot in the WFTDA rankings by winning the Dust Devil. This time around, it was Texas as the #3 seed and Rat City as the #1 seed, but the outcome was eerily similar, as Rat City overcame a significant early deficit, took the lead in the second half and then held fast against a increasingly aggressive attack from the Texas squad to win the most physical bout of the tournament, 89-79.
photo credit: insanitylabs
Rat City had a rough time getting off the blocks, as the second through sixth jams of the half all featured a Rat City jammer either getting sent to the penalty box during the jam or starting off in the penalty box. Texas used that to their advantage, managing to establish a crowd-pleasing 21-7 lead over the course of the first ten minutes. The seventh jam proved to set up a bit of a turning point, though, as Rat City jammer Femme Fatale was sent to the box for cutting track on a spectacular but failed attempt to leap over the last Texas blocker in the pack — but Texas jammer Lady X wasn’t far behind in picking up her fourth minor. Forced to put blockers in the jammer position on the next jam, Rat City sent Morning Gory to the line against Dinah Mite for Texas, and Gory got the better of the contest, picking up an 8-0 spot. Next up, Texas jammer Bloody Mary was working with a significant disadvantage as two Texas blockers were in the penalty box, and Rat City’s Pia Mess got in three scoring laps while Bloody Mary only got one, giving Rat City a 10-4 jam win and tying up the score at 25-25.
The momentum shifted right back on the following jam, as a bit of substitution confusion on the Rat City bench resulted in the next jam starting before the Rat City jammer got to the starting line. With a full two minutes to work unopposed, Texas’ speed machine Rice Rocket got her full 5 points on two scoring passes, putting Texas back ahead, 35-25. Texas would get lead jammer status on 7 out of 8 jams to close out the half, and were able to control the jam margins for the remainder of the half, sending the teams to their lockers with Texas holding a 48-37 lead.
The second half opened with a quick reversal of fortune. It looked like Texas had an advantage with Lady X starting on the jammer line unopposed against Ann R. Kissed, who had to finish out serving a penalty she committed at the very end of the first half, but X went to the penalty box just as Ann R. Kissed was freed from it, and she managed to get lead and 8 points to X’s 3. With X in the box to start the next, Rat City’s Edie Brickwall put up 4 more points before Lady X could get out, claim lead jammer and call off the jam. Suddenly, Texas’ lead had been whittled to just two points at 51-49. After a couple of tie jams, Texas’ Bloody Mary gave Texas a bit of breathing room by running up a 5-0 jam over Burnette Down, who started the jam in the penalty box. A couple of one-point jam wins for Rat City made the score Texas 60, Rat City 55 with about 16 minutes left in the bout, but then it was Texas’ turn to fail to send a jammer to the start line in time for the opening jam whistle, and Rat City’s Miss Fortune duplicated Rice Rocket’s first-half feat by picking up 10 unopposed points, putting Rat City in the lead for the first time since the second jam of the bout, 66-60.
Rat City pushed their advantage on the next jam, with Blonde ‘n’ Bitchin getting two grand slams in the course of going 11-0 over Cat Tastrophe. It was then Rat City 77, Texas 63 with about 12 minutes left on the clock, and both teams somehow managed to find a way to ratchet up the intensity even further. Texas jammers Trouble, Sparkle Plenty and Bloody Mary scored 3, 4 and 5 points respectively on the next three jams while Rat City remained stuck at 77, once again running into penalty trouble that often left their jammers watching the action from the box. That closed the score to Rat City 77, Texas 72 with 8 minutes to play, but Burnette Down would get Rat City some much needed points on the next jam, getting in a lap point on Sparkle Plenty and starting a second scoring pass before Sparkle finally broke the pack and immediately called the jam. Rat City’s swift Miss Fortune pushed the Rat City lead out to 15 on the subsequent jam by getting lead jammer and putting up a quick 4-0 over Rice Rocket.
Rat City’s Ann R. Kissed takes down Lady X. Photo credit: insanitylabs
With the score Rat City 87, Texas 72 and only 5:30 left on the clock, the hometown crowd went wild when Rice Rocket managed to put up a 3-0 over Blonde ‘n’ Bitchin to narrow the Rat City lead to 12, but they also went wild in a different way on the following jam, when Texas jammer Lady X went down hard on a low hit that caused the jam to be called due to an apparent serious injury. There was a lengthy break in the action while the EMTs attended to Lady X, which provided ample opportunity for the Texas fans to razz the Seattle bench (Lady X would not return to the game.) When the action started up again, there was only 3:19 left on the clock and Texas was still looking to climb out of a 87-75 hole. In a matchup of blazing speed between Rice Rocket and Miss Fortune, it was Miss Fortune who got a pivotal lead jammer call, allowing her to call the jam immediately at 0-0 and burn a crucial minute off the clock. Rat City’s Pia Mess would seal the victory on the following jam, picking up lead jammer and scoring 2 points against 4 for Rice Rocket. With only 41 seconds left on the clock, those would be the final points scored in the bout, and Rat City skated away with a victory, 89-79, in what has arguably become one of derby’s hottest rivalries.
Additional reporting: Reckless Ndangerment, Charm City Roller Girls