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Lauren Bernett, a standout on James Madison’s softball team who helped the Dukes reach the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series last year, has died, the university announced Tuesday. She was 20.
The university released a letter mourning the death of Bernett, a sophomore at JMU. They did not reveal a cause of death.
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“Our hearts are aching, hearing the news of the loss of one of our student-athletes. Lauren Bernett was a high-achieving member of our softball team and a great ambassador of JMU and our athletics program,” the letter read.
“College athletics is great because of the people with whom we get to interact every day. We are a tight family. We are grateful that Lauren has been part of our JMU Athletics community and will always consider her to be a Duke. We will miss her dearly.”
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Born in McDonald, Pennsylvania, Bernett was a member of the National Honor Society and planned to major in biology with a minor in pre-vet.
As a freshman standout on the softball team, she made the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) All-State Second Team and played a key role in the Dukes’ semifinal appearance in the Women’s College World Series, losing out to the eventual champions, Oklahoma.
Bernett was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s player of the week on Monday.
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Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an email they are conducting an investigation into Bernett’s death, but noted that no foul play is suspected.
Her untimely death follows that of another promising college athlete, Wisconsin track star Sarah Shulze, earlier this month. According to a website dedicated to Shulze, she took her own life on April 13. She was 21.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. The Lifeline is available for everyone, is free, and confidential — 1-800-273-TALK (8255)