JMU Dukes softball player Lauren Bernett, part of 2021 College World Series run, dies

Lauren Bernett, a softball player for James Madison University, has died, the school announced Tuesday.

"We are in the process of conducting a death investigation into the incident and it is currently classified as an apparent suicide," Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said in a statement released Wednesday. "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."

It is unclear when the medical examiner will finish the report or when more information will be available.

"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," JMU president Jonathan Alger and athletic director Jeff Bourne said in a combined statement. "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."

Odicci Alexander, star pitcher of JMU's Women's College World Series run in 2021, posted "Love you LB" on social media, as well as, "You really never know what someone is going through."

Bernett, a sophomore, was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week on Monday, following a weekend series in which she went 7-for-9 with seven RBIs, four runs scored and a home run.

As part of its release, the university provided links to its counseling center and additional resources for those dealing with mental health issues.

Bernett's death follows those of two other female college athletes in the past two months. Last month, Katie Meyer, goalkeeper and captain of the Stanford women's soccer team, was found dead in an on-campus residence; her death was determined to be "self-inflicted," according to the medical examiner's office of Santa Clara County, California. Earlier this month, Wisconsin track and cross-country runner Sarah Shulze died by suicide, her parents said.