(23) Ohio Looks For Success Against (15) Atlanta and (28) Tampa
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(23) Ohio Looks For Success Against (15) Atlanta and (28) Tampa

This weekend, the Ohio Roller Girls will once again hit the highway as they travel down I-75 to Altanta, Georgia, for a double-header against the (15) Atlanta Rollergirls and the (28) Tampa Bay Derby Darlins.

Ohio, currently 8-2 this season, recently came away with a home victory against the (44) Blue Ridge Rollergirls of Asheville, NC, 278-77.  The bouts against Atlanta and Tampa will mark the seventh and eighth bouts this season against teams ranked in the top 30 internationally.  The Atlanta bout will be the second of four bouts against teams that qualified for the Championship tournament in 2012 (top 12).

With ten bouts already under their collective belt, the Ohio Roller Girls have already played more bouts this season than Tampa (7) and Atlanta (8) have scheduled for their entire season, and Ohio still has nine bouts to follow.  That type of anyone, anytime, anywhere mentality has pushed the OHRG to where they are today; however, that type of schedule can also hinder a team.  Over a five week span, the OHRG have already played, or are scheduled to play, eight bouts against quality opponents (River City, Charm City, Arch Rival, Blue Ridge, Tampa, Atlanta, Pikes Peak, and Minnesota).  With no time to rest, Ohio will try to steal a couple of bouts in the “Dirty South” from two squads they have never faced before.

In the first bout, the OHRG will take on the Tampa Bay Tantrums at 1:00 p.m.  Though Ohio and Tampa have never squared off, OHRG did take part in the 2011 Franky Panky tournament hosted by the Tampa Tantrums where OHRG defeated Gold Coast (FL), but lost to No Coast (NE).  With seven bouts on their 2013 docket, Tampa has only played over the course of two weekends so far.  They started their season by defeating in-state Gainesville 288-101 in February.  They took a month off then laced their skates at the Tinseltown Showdown where they played three more bouts over three days.  Tampa went 2-1 at the Showdown by defeating Houston (150-148) and Brewcity (297-101).  Their only loss was to surprise 2013 powerhouse Angel City (130-309).  Their 3-1 record has them set-up nicely for the last three bouts of their regular season (Ohio, Atlanta, and Tallahassee).

If Ohio wants to secure the victory against Tampa, their defense will have to play a strong sixty minutes and minimize double-digit point jams by those wearing the star for the Tantrums.  Tampa will be lead by Little A on the jammer line, but the ladies in pink and black have quite a bit of depth that Ohio blockers will have to contend with.  Along with Little A, Tampa features Taz Maniac, Rojo Grande, and Lil Bit Breaker;  all of whom are able to succeed while toeing the jammer line.  Little A was also a member of the 2011 Team USA squad that took first place at the inaugural Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto, Canada.  Tampa’s pack is anchored by veterans Bettie Kruger (Captain), Blaque Jac, Lily the Kid, and Lunch Lady.

The Tantrums’ success last season took them to a fourth-place finish in the former South Central region as they just missed punching a ticket to the Championship Tournament following their 98-249 loss to the Texacutioners.  With the new WFTDA ranking system, the sunshine skaters seem solidly positioned within the top 40, meaning they will compete in the season-ending Division 1 tournament for another shot at Champs.  The four Division 1 playoff locations are Salem (OR), Ft. Wayne (IN), Richmond (VA), and Asheville (NC).

In their second bout of the day, the Ohio Roller Girls will play the Dirty South Derby Girls of the Atlanta Rollergirls.  Ranked #15 internationally, Atlanta has skated themselves to a 2-0 record thus far in 2013 with their average margin of victory being 415 points.  They have only played once per month, which featured a 474-49 victory over Blue Ridge (NC) in March and a 436-30 killing of Nashville (TN) in April.  They’ll have six bouts remaining in their regular season, four of which will be against a quality opponent (Tampa, Ohio, Gotham, and Philly).

OHRG and Atlanta Rollergirls have never faced each other, but the contest should give Ohio a better understanding of where they stand against top-tier competition.  So far, they have one common opponent this season: Blue Ridge from Asheville, North Carolina.  Atlanta defeated Blue Ridge by 425 in March while Ohio defeated them in Columbus last weekend by 201.  Ohio will have their work cut out for them, as nearly every skater for ATL has a laundry list of awards and accomplishments attached to them.  Rookie Jean-Juke Picard has sprinted her way into the regular jamming rotation along with annual highlight producer, Jammunition.

Atlanta’s blocking core is one of the best around, and a huge reason they made it to Champs last season.  Switchblade Siouxsie is the Dirty South’s 2012 MVP and best blocker.  She was also given an honorable mention for Team USA during the inaugural World Cup.  Siouxsie will be joined by Queen Loseyateefa and Wild Cherry for the majority of the contest.  Wild Cherry, a transfer skater who also played with Tampa and won a championship with Gotham, was last year’s South Central Region Tournament Most Valuable Blocker.  Having already lost to Charm and Arch Rival, Ohio will be looking to secure a second victory over a higher ranked opponent this season (they defeated Steel City on April 6th).  One thing is for sure, a victory over either Tampa or Atlanta will get the second half of their season started on the right foot and could carry them into a successful BrewHaHa tournament in two weeks.

Both Ohio/Tampa and Ohio/Atlanta bouts will be broadcast on Derby News Network this Saturday.
Ohio plays Tampa at 1:00 p.m. EST, and the bout can be watched on DNN:
Ohio faces Atlanta at 5:00 p.m. EST, and the bout can be watched on DNN: http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com/live/bouts/2013/05/19_ohio_17_atlanta.

Andrew Marron