Sheriff: Death of JMU softball star an apparent suicide

The death of the James Madison softball star is classified as an apparent suicide, but Rockingham County Sheriff Brian Hutchson said Wednesday that the death is under investigation.

School president Jonathan Algar and athletic director Jeff Bourne announced the death of 20-year-old Lauren Burnett, a sophomore catcher and cleanup hitter for Duke, in a news release Tuesday. He did not give any details.

“Pending an official report from the medical examiner’s office, and out of respect for his family and friends, there is no other information to release at this time,” Hutchison said in an email.

He was named CAA player of the week to bat a day after Burnett’s death was announced. .778 with seven RBIs and four runs in Drexel’s three-game weekend sweep, dragged JMU to within a game of league-leading Delaware.

The Colonial Athletic Association said on Wednesday that a weekend series between JMU and Delaware in Harrisonburg would not be played and instead declared a non-contest that would not affect conference status. JMU had canceled the double-header against Longwood the day before.

For the season, Burnett, a Dean’s List student from McDonald’s, Pennsylvania, was majoring in biology. Batting .336 with nine home runs and 33 RBI. Her home run last year helped James Madison win an NCAA regional game in Tennessee. The Dukes then defeated Liberty to advance to the Super Regionals to enter the Women’s College World Series.

“Our hearts are saddened to hear of the loss of one of our student-athletes. Lauren Burnett was a high-achieving member of our softball team and a great ambassador for JMU and our athletics program,” Algeria and Bourne said in a joint statement.

“…college athletics is great because of the people we interact with every day. We are a tight family. We are grateful that Lauren has been a part of our JMU athletics community and will always consider her a duke. We will consider her a duke.” Will miss you a lot.”

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