Emily Cerny Dominates NAIA to Historic WPF Contract
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has long been on the forefront of historic moments. Beginning with the integration of college sports, to the addition of women’s championships, and most recently being the first to pass Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation.
Another inspiring milestone of Emily Cerny, a former athlete who defied the odds and made an extraordinary journey to reach the pinnacle of softball as being the first in the professional ranks.
Emily Cerny's athletic journey began in the Midwest where she attended Newcastle High School in Oklahoma before signing with the University of Science and Arts in her home state. Holding a State Title and All-City Player of the Year in hand, Cerny's passion for her chosen sport burned brightly, propelling her to compete at the college level.
She found her home at the institution, where she showcased her talent and quickly became a standout player on the team. Cerny’s Drover career would rewrite the record books.
Throughout her NAIA career, Cerny's dedication to her craft and her team was evident. She consistently pushed herself to improve, both on and off the field, and her leadership qualities began to shine. Her performance on the field caught the attention of coaches, teammates, and fans alike, and it was clear that she possessed the potential to take her game to the greatest heights.
Along the way, she shattered previous USAO program records, Sooner Athletic Conference marks, and long held standards at the national level. The three-time NAIA Pitcher of the Year is the statistical leader in nine categories including 16 no-hitters, 68 shutouts, 144 wins, 186 appearances, and 1,414 strikeouts.
A four-time All-America was voted the 2018 NAIA Softball World Series MVP after she put the Drovers on her back and led USAO to the National Championship that year. In 2023, she became the first-ever NAIA athlete to sign a contract with the Women’s Professional Fastpitch league. Fittingly, she became a member of the OKC Spark, allowing her to stay local and play in front of her family and friends.
Her story also sheds light on the value of NAIA athletics in nurturing talent and providing a platform for athletes to excel. It showcases how the lessons learned, the experiences gained, and the relationships formed at the NAIA level can shape athletes into well-rounded individuals ready to tackle challenges at any stage of their careers.