Lauren Bernett: James Madison University cancels remainder of softball season after student athlete’s death is ruled suicide

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Bernett, 20, played a major role in the 2021 Women’s College World Series.

She died April 25 and the Western District Medical Examiner’s Office in Virginia told CNN Tuesday she died by suicide.

“This was an extremely difficult decision and one that was not made lightly,” JMU head coach Loren LaPorte said in a Monday statement about canceling the rest of the season. “We will use this time to continue healing and to honor Lauren’s memory while finishing the academic semester strong.”

Bernett was a sophomore who planned on majoring in biology with a minor in pre-vet, her JMU bio said.

The catcher had just been named “Player of the Week” by the Colonial Athletic Association.

Last season, Bernett and her teammates shined when they made national headlines with the Dukes’ unexpected, first-ever run to the Women’s College World Series national semifinals. JMU finished its best-ever season with a 41-4 record.

Following Bernett’s death, five games were canceled, including a doubleheader at Longwood University and a weekend series with Delaware, according to the statement.

The remaining game cancellations included a contest against Virginia Tuesday and a three-game league series against Elon May 6 and 7.

LaPorte acknowledged the impact the cancellation may have on graduating students “whose careers have come to an abrupt conclusion,” vowing the university will ensure they’re also honored for their contributions to JMU as student athletes.

“JMU concludes its season at 21-21 overall and 10-5 in conference play,” the statement said.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.


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