James Madison University announced on Tuesday that women’s softball catcher Lauren Bernett has died at age 20. No cause of death was given.  JMU President Jonathan Alger and director of athletics Jeff Bourne said in a joint statement:  “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. She was a key member of our 2021 Women’s College World Series team as a freshman catcher last year. 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.”

Bernett contributed to the Dukes’ softball team that reached the College World Series last season before losing to top-seeded Oklahoma. James Madison was the first unseeded program in tournament history to reach the national semifinals.  Bernett hit .336 with 36 hits and nine home runs in 2022, and had just been named Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week on Monday.  She tied the single-game record with seven RBIs in James Madison’s recent 8-2 win over the College of Charleston.

Bernett is survived by her mother and father, two sisters, and two brothers. The sophomore biology major made the dean’s list last fall.

Editorial credit: Olga Alper / Shutterstock.com

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