HARRISONBURG, Va. – James Madison University has canceled the remainder of its softball season after a teammate died last Monday.
Following the recent death of Lauren Bernett, who was a sophomore catcher, on April 25, the final games of the season have been canceled. Her death has been classified as an apparent suicide, but Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said Wednesday that an investigation into the death is continuing.
“The official report from 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 time,” Hutcheson said in an email.
The announcement of Bernett’s death came a day after she was named the CAA player of the week for batting .778 with seven RBIs and four runs in a three-game weekend sweep of Drexel that pulled JMU within a game of league-leading Delaware.
"This was an extremely difficult decision and one that was not made lightly," JMU Head Coach Loren LaPorte said. "We are so grateful for the support of our fans all season and for the love from the softball community during the past week. We will use this time to continue healing and to honor Lauren's memory while finishing the academic semester strong. Most importantly, we're thinking about our graduating seniors whose careers have come to an abrupt conclusion. We will make sure that they are honored for the commitment and dedication they have made as student-athletes at James Madison University."
The cancellations include a contest on May 3 against Virginia and a three-game league series on May 6 and 7 against Elon. According to JMU, the conference games vs. Elon are counted as "no contests" and there will be no adjustments made to the league standings.
This decision comes after five games were previously called off last week, including a Wednesday doubleheader against Longwood and a weekend series with Delaware.
JMU now concludes its season at 21-21 overall and 10-5 in conference play. The Dukes won their final five games of the season.
Statement from the coaching staff about the passing of Lauren Bernett: pic.twitter.com/66PfCdtr5g— JMU Softball (@JMUSoftball) April 29, 2022
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Crisis Textline: Text ASKUS to 741741