Monday, March 27, 2023

Sheriff: Death of JMU softball star an apparent suicide

HARRISONBURG, Virginia (AP) – The death of a James Madison softball player has been classified as an apparent suicide, but Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said Wednesday an investigation into the death continues.

School president Jonathan Alger and athletics director Jeff Bourne announced in a news release on Tuesday the death of 20-year-old Lauren Bernett, a second-year catcher, and cleaner for the Dukes. They did not provide any details.

“The official report of the medical examiner’s office is pending, and out of respect for her family and friends, there is no other information to release at this stage,” Hutcheson said in an email.

The announcement of Bernett’s death came a day after she was named CAA Player of the Week for the .778 bat with seven RBIs and four runs in a three-game weekend whip from Drexel that put JMU in ‘ drew a game of league-leading Delaware.

The Colonial Athletic Association said on Wednesday that a weekend series in Harrisonburg between JMU and Delaware would not be played and would rather be declared a no-competition that would not affect the conference’s standings. JMU canceled a double kick against Longwood a day earlier.

For the season, Bernett, a dean’s dean from McDonald’s, Pennsylvania, majoring in biology, batted .336 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs. Her home run last year helped James Madison win an NCAA regional game in Tennessee. The Dukes then beat Liberty to advance to the super region and advance to the Women’s College World Series.

“Our hearts ache when we hear the news of the loss of one of our student-athletes. Lauren Bernett was a high-performing member of our softball team and a great ambassador of JMU and our athletics program,” Alger and Bourne said in the joint statement.

″ College athletics is great because of the people we can interact with every day. We are a close family. We are grateful that Lauren was part of our JMU athletics community and will always consider her a duke. We will miss her very much. ”

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