Missouri State’s Samantha Fleeman and Southern Illinois' Cassidy Scoggins were named the 2006 Missouri Valley Conference Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, in a vote by league coaches and announced at the State Farm / MVC Softball Championship pre-tournament banquet held in Omaha, Neb., on Wednesday evening.

Fleeman, a firstbaseman, demonstrated her value on offensethis spring, leading Creighton with a .361 average, good for fourth overall in the league. She also ranks first in the league in hits (57) and third in on base percentage (.463). Fleeman ranks fourth in homeruns (9), fifth in runs scored (36) and fifth in RBI (32). She leads her team with a .595 slugging percentage and the senior carries a .995 fielding percentage.

Fleeman was also tough in the circle for the Bears, going 5-4 with a 1.28 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 60 innings pitched.

Scoggins, an Owasso, Okla., native, leads the Valley and is 16th in the country with a 0.97 ERA. Her 25 victories are tied for ninth in the country and also lead the league. The junior is second in the Valley in opposing batting average (.173) and appearances (38). Scoggins ranks third in the league in innings pitched (194.1) and strikeouts (218) and her four saves are tied for second in the league and eighth in the nation.

Scoggins owns a 25-8 record for the Salukis in the circle and would have had even better numbers had SIU not led the nation in games lost due to weather.

Illinois State freshman designated player Amber Smith was named the league’s Newcomer-of-the-Year. Smith leads all Valley players in slugging percentage (.775), on base percentage (.470), homeruns (17) and RBI (50).

Those gaudy numbers also rank among the NCAA’s best. Smith is tied for 13th in home runs per game, is 17th in the nation in RBI per game and ranks 25th in slugging percentage. The freshman’s .341 batting average ranks third-best on the Redbird squad and she has also slugged five doubles and notched 50 RBI.

In her role as designated player, she registered a .984 fielding percentage.

The first-team all-Valley squad featured 16 student-athletes, including four pitchers, four outfielders and three third baseman as the team includes at-large selection regardless of position.

The final award of the evening went to the 2006 Coaching Staff of the Year. For the first time since the award was changed to honor an entire coaching staff, the staff at Illinois State was chosen by their colleagues. Head coach Melinda Fischer and assistants Tina Kramos, Bill Kennedy and Bill Dickson were honored.

While this is the first award for the whole staff, coach Fischer has been named Valley Coach of the Year four previous times in 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2001.

The 2006 State Farm/MVC Softball Championship begins Thursday morning at the Creighton Sports Complex in Omaha, Neb., and continues through Saturday.

Player of the Year
Samantha Fleeman, Missouri State

Pitcher of the Year
Cassidy Scoggins, Southern Illinois

Newcomer of the Year
Amber Smith, Illinois State

Coaching Staff of the Year
Illinois State
Melinda Fischer
Tina Kramos
Bill Kennedy
Bill Dickson

FIRST TEAM
Pitcher
Stacy Birk, Illinois State
Darcy Wood, Indiana State
Shannon Buslepp, Missouri State
Cassidy Scoggins, Southern Illinois

Catcher
Joanna Pettit, Bradley

First Base
Samantha Fleeman, Missouri State

Second Base
Lauren Cisneros, Creighton

Third Base
Shanna Cook, Drake
Tricia Gaither, Illinois State
Katie Louis, Southern Illinois

Shortstop
Britnee Barnett, Wichita State

Outfielders
Jessica Smith, Missouri State
Krystal Stein, Southern Illinois
Randi Patton, Illinois State
Katie McGeeney, Wichita State

Designated Player
Amber Smith, Illinois State

SECOND TEAM
Lauren Roney, Southern Illinois, C
Melissa Porche, Missouri State, P
Brittany Herald, Evansville, 1B
Tiffany Prager, Illinois State, 2B
Bailey Dawson, Creighton, SS
Alicia Laraway, Evansville, OF
Katie Martin, Missouri State, OF
Lauren Roney, Southern Illinois, OF
Lauren Haas, Southern Illinois, UT