James Madison cancels remainder of softball schedule after Lauren Bernett’s death

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James Madison University announced Monday it canceled the remainder of the softball season after the death of Lauren Bernett.

Bernett, a 20-year-old sophomore catcher with the Dukes, died by suicide on April 25, according to the Medical Examiner for the Western District of Virginia. She was the cleanup hitter for the team and was just named the Colonial Athletic Association player of the week.

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Oklahoma's Rylie Boone (0) slides in at home past James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett (22) to score a run in the sixth inning during a Women's College World Series semi finals game at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. Oklahoma won 6-3.

Oklahoma’s Rylie Boone (0) slides in at home past James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett (22) to score a run in the sixth inning during a Women’s College World Series semi finals game at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. Oklahoma won 6-3.
(Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)

“This was an extremely difficult decision and one that was not made lightly,” James Madison coach Loren LaPorte said in a statement. “We are so grateful for the support of our fans all season and for the love from the softball community during the past week. We will use this time to continue healing and to honor Lauren’s memory while finishing the academic semester strong. 

“Most importantly, we’re thinking about our graduating seniors whose careers have come to an abrupt conclusion. We will make sure that they are honored for the commitment and dedication they have made as student-athletes at James Madison University.”

Canceled games included the May 3 matchup against Virginia and a three-game series against Elon starting May 6. Five games were canceled last week.

JAMES MADISON SOFTBALL STAR LAUREN BERNETT DEAD AT 20

Oklahoma’s Rylie Boone (0) slides in at home past James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett (22) to score a run in the sixth inning during a Women’s College World Series semi finals game at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. Oklahoma won 6-3. 

Oklahoma’s Rylie Boone (0) slides in at home past James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett (22) to score a run in the sixth inning during a Women’s College World Series semi finals game at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. Oklahoma won 6-3. 
(Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)

Bernett was a dean’s list student from McDonald, Pennsylvania, majoring in biology. She was one of the best hitters on the Dukes and hit a home run against Tennessee in an NCAA Regional game. The team eventually made it to the Women’s College World Series.

“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,” school president Jonathan Alger and athletic director Jeff Bourne said in a joint statement.

“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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James Madison’s season concludes with a 21-21 overall record and a 10-5 record in the CAA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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)



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