HARRISONBURG, Va. (WAVY) — The James Madison University community is mourning the loss of JMU softball player Lauren Bernett.
The 20-year-old sophomore catcher from McDonald, Pennsylvania, was a key player in the Dukes’ 2021 Women’s College World Series run as freshman.
A cause of death has not been shared for Bernett at this time.
“College athletics is great because of the people with whom we get to interact every day,” said JMU President Jonathan Alger and JMU Athletic Director Jeff Bourne in a joint statement. “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. Our thoughts are with her family; her coaches, teammates and friends; the rest of our department staff and student-athletes; and the entire JMU community. JMU Nation is a close community, and we grieve together.”
JMU Athletics provided resources for mental health and counseling in their announcement of her death on Tuesday.
Bernett had just been named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Week after going 7-for-9 with seven RBI and four runs scored in a weekend sweep of Drexel. This year’s young JMU squad has struggled in comparison to recent seasons after losing star pitcher Odicci Alexander and most of its other starters from the 2021 season, but had won five straight games and was in position to possibly win the CAA regular season title this weekend in a series vs. Delaware.
Alexander tweeted “Love you LB” and “You really never know what someone is going through” on Tuesday in response to the news.
JMU student-athletes and other students held a flower drop for Bernett on Tuesday afternoon at the Dukes’ softball park. JMU Athletics said the memorial at the entrance to Veterans Memorial Park would remain open Tuesday night for anyone who wishes to stop by.
JMU also announced that Wednesday’s doubleheader against Longwood has been canceled.
For information on programs, events, presentations and support groups the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers, click here.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK.
For additional support in the JMU area, please reach out to:
- Counseling Center, 540-568-6552
- Dean of Students Office, 540-568-6468
- Campus Crisis line after hours, 540-568-6552
- Sentara RMH Emergency Department, 540-689-1414
- Self-Help resources available through the University Counseling Center
- TAO mental health resource
- Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor
- Counseling Center’s Additional 24/7 Emergency Information