James Madison announced Tuesday that softball team catcher Lauren Bernett had died. She was 20.
Bernett was a sophomore from McDonald, Pennsylvania. She was an integral part of the James Madison team that made it to the 2021 Women's College World Series. The school did not release a cause of death in its announcement.
"College athletics is great because of the people with whom we get to interact every day," a school statement said. "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."
Star pitcher Odicci Alexander posted to Twitter Tuesday morning that she was heartbroken about Bernett's death.
Bernett was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s player of the week on Monday. She was 7-of-9 at the plate with seven RBI and four runs as JMU swept Drexel over the weekend. Four of those hits went for extra bases.
She tied the school record for RBI in a single game with seven on April 16. Bernett was hitting .336 in 107 at bats so far this season.
Bernett started 43 games as a freshman in 2021 and hit .235 with three homers and 10 RBIs. She had easily eclipsed those totals in 2022 with nine homers and 33 RBI while increasing her slugging percentage by 250 points.
James Madison softball was one of the most fun stories of the 2021 spring college sports season. JMU beat Liberty and Tennessee to win the Knoxville regional and then took down Missouri in three games to advance to the College World Series. The Dukes then beat Oklahoma and Oklahoma State before losing back-to-back games to the Sooners in the WCWS.