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JMU cancels rest of softball season after Lauren Bernett’s death


The JMU softball team has canceled the rest of its season following the death of sophomore catcher Lauren Bernett.

Bernett died April 25. According to a statement from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s office, Bernett’s death is being classified as an apparent suicide.

“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.”

Bernett was a mainstay of the JMU program, helping the team to a historic and unlikely run in the 2021 Women’s College World Series.

The JMU coaching staff released a statement on Bernett’s death on Friday, in which they honored the catcher’s impact on the team and community.

“Finding the words to describe what our team is going through right now feels nearly impossible,” the statement read. “However, we want others to know the impact Lauren had on each of our lives, and each member of not only our softball family, but the entire JMU community.

“Lauren had one of the most genuine, old and trusting souls. Her huge heart showed grace and kindness to everyone she ever met. She was mature beyond her years and always put others before herself, wanting everyone around her to be happy. Her smile and laugh were radiant – lighting up every room, bullpen or dugout she walked into and making everyone around her instantly smile.”

Note: If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.