Lauren Bernett, a hard-hitting catcher for James Madison University’s softball team, has died at age 20, the school announced Tuesday. The squad’s doubleheader against Longwood on Wednesday has been canceled along with a weekend series against Delaware.
“Our hearts are aching, hearing the news of the loss off one of our student-athletes,” school President Jonathan Alger and Athletics Director Jeff Bourne said in a joint statement. “Lauren Bernett was a high-achieving member of our softball team and a great ambassador of JMU and our athletics program.”
Bernett, a sophomore biology major from McDonald, Pennsylvania, just earned Colonial Athletic Association “player of the week” honors after a star performance against Drexel University over the weekend. As a freshman, she was one of the heroes of the underdog JMU team that advanced to the Women’s College World Series semifinal.
The school did not provide a cause of death. The statement, however, pointed readers to text and phone contacts for people in crisis.
“You really never know what someone is going through,” former teammate Odicci Alexander tweeted earlier, per CNN and ESPN.
News of Bernett’s passing came in the wake of notable deaths of two other NCAA athletes, Wisconsin distance runner Sarah Shulze and Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer. Both died by suicide.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.