JMU Cancels Softball Season After Player's Suicide

'We will use this time to continue healing and to honor Lauren's memory'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2022 5:46 AM CDT
JMU Cancels Softball Season After Player's Death
Liberty softball players wear purple ribbons in their hair during a game against Tennessee at Liberty Softball Stadium in Lynchburg, Va. on April 27, 2022 to honor James Madison University softball sophomore catcher Lauren Bernett who recently died.   (Kendall Warner/The News & Advance via AP)

Virginia's James Madison University has canceled the remainder of its softball season after the death of a star athlete. Catcher Lauren Bernett, 20, of McDonald, Penn., died of an apparent suicide on April 25, according to the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office. That was the same day she was named Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week "following a weekend series in which she went 7-for-9 with seven RBIs, four runs scored and a home run," per ESPN. Five games cancelled last week and two others to be canceled this week will be counted as "no contests," leaving the Harrisonburg team's record at 21-21 overall and 10-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association, school officials said Monday.

"This was an extremely difficult decision," Dukes coach Loren LaPorte said in a statement, per NBC News, adding "we will use this time to continue healing and to honor Lauren's memory." JMU President Jonathan Alger and Athletic Director Jeff Bourne previously noted Bernett was "a key member of our 2021 Women's College World Series team as a freshman catcher last year," per ESPN. Odicci Alexander, star pitcher of JMU's World Series run, honored Bernett in a series of tweets. "You really never know what someone is going through," she wrote. (If you or someone you know is struggling, you can call the free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)

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