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James Madison softball player Lauren Bernett dies


James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett has died, the school announced Tuesday.

“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,” JMU president Jonathan Alger said in a statement. “She was a key member of our 2021 Women’s College World Series team as a freshman catcher last year.”

The sophomore was the starting catcher during JMU’s unlikely and thrilling Women’s College World Series run last season.

She had continued that strong play through the 41 games she played this season, batting .336 with nine home runs and 33 RBI. She was named the CAA Player of the Week on Monday after leading JMU with seven RBIs in their three-game sweep of Drexel over the weekend.

“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,” Alger said. “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.”

A cause of death was not provided.