Star James Madison University softball player Lauren Bernett, who helped the school in its historic run to the Women’s College World Series, died of apparent suicide, authorities said Wednesday.
The death of Bernett, a sophomore catcher who was third on the Harrisonburg, Virginia, school’s team in home runs and second in RBIs, was announced tuesday by JMU President Jonathan Algiers.
“Our hearts are aching, hearing the news of the loss of one of our student-athletes,” Alger said in a statement. “Lauren Bernett was a high-achieving member of our softball team and a great ambassador of JMU and our athletics program.”
The school’s statement did not state a cause of death, but Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said on Wednesday that Bernett apparently died of suicide.
“We are in the process of conducting a death investigation into the incident and it is currently classified as an apparent suicide,” Hutcheson said in a statement.
“The official report from the Medical Examiner’s Office is pending, and out of respect for her family and friends, there is no other information to release at this time.”
As a freshman last year, Bernett, of McDonald, Pennsylvania, started 43 games as the Dukes went 41-4 and advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in school history.
The Dukes won their first two games in Oklahoma City before bowing out to perennial power house, and eventual champion, Oklahoma.
The Dukes are 21-21 this year and last played on Sunday, beating Drexel, 11-4, in Philadelphia. Bernett had a banner game, going 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles.
Tea Colonial Athletic Association on Monday named Bernett the conference’s player of the week.
JMU’s next five scheduled games, two against Longwood on Wednesday and three more this upcoming weekend against Delaware, have been canceled.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
Gemma DiCasimirro contributed.