The Santa Cruz Derby Girls hosted a beach city roller-derby battle Saturday night at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Santa Cruz’s Saltwater Sassies, a junior team, and the Harbor Hellcats, an adult team, took on their counterparts from the Westcoast Derby Knockouts’ out of Ventura.
The juniors began the evening with the Sassies notching a definitive 216-147 win over Ventura.
The game started out evenly matched and featured multiple lead changes in the first half. Santa Cruz dealt with some penalty trouble and kept the score within striking distance but trailed by 10 points heading into halftime. The Sassies rallied back in the second half by cleaning up their penalties, securing the lead jammer at a higher rate than they had early and taking control of the game.
“They were able to play their game and use all the strategies we teach them in practice that they they’re usually too overwhelmed to put into action,” Santa Cruz coach Adrian’s Revenge (aka Meri Ancic) said. “It was the best game they’ve played this season. I’m really proud of them.”
The Santa Cruz Derby Groms — which encompasses the best players from four junior teams, including the Saltwater Sassies — are ranked No. 1 in the Junior Roller Derby Association. They brought home the championship for the first time last year and are gearing up to defend their tile at the national tournament in Loveland, Colorado, at the end of the month.
Ventura’s adult team found just as little wiggle room against the Hellcats, who won 250-78.
Ventura showed strength in the opening jams with hard-hitting defenders and jammers who were able to push and maneuver around Santa Cruz blockers. Within minutes, however, Santa Cruz was able to tighten up its defense and make adjustments to control Ventura’s jammers. Meanwhile, Santa Cruz jammers made multiple scoring passes. The result was a blowout win for the Harbor Hellcats.
“Playing at the Civic for our hometown fans is always a thrill — even better when we can obliterate the other team,” the Hellcats’ Captain Knox (aka Marie Mealer) said. “We really worked well together and put strategy that we’ve been working on all season into play successfully.”
The Santa Cruz Derby Girls’ competitive travel team, the Boardwalk Bombshells — which features some Hellcats players — is ranked No. 18 in the world by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. The level of skill and teamwork required of a top-level roller derby league was showcased by the Harbor Hellcats, a development team.
The Santa Cruz Derby Girls will host another junior and adult team doubleheader on Aug. 24.
**Article by Eileen Hill as printed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel**
**Photo Credit: Mark Nockleby ©2019**