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Sophomore college softball star Lauren Bernett dies: ‘A great ambassador’

Bernett was a catcher with James Madison University's softball team and had received a player of the week honor on Monday.
Lauren Bernett during an NCAA softball game on May 28, 2021 in Columbia, Missouri.
Lauren Bernett during an NCAA softball game on May 28, 2021 in Columbia, Missouri.Colin E. Braley / AP

Students and faculty at James Madison University are mourning the loss of sophomore student-athlete Lauren Bernett.

On Tuesday, the Virginia university announced the death of Bernett, 20, a softball player at the school. The school did not disclose a cause of death.

“Our hearts are aching, hearing the news of the loss of one of our student-athletes,” read a joint letter to the JMU community from the school's president, Jonathan Alger, and director of athletics, Jeff Bourne.

“Lauren Bernett was a high-achieving member of our softball team and a great ambassador of JMU and our athletics program. She was a key member of our 2021 Women’s College World Series team as a freshman catcher last year.”

The Rockingham County, Virginia Sheriff’s Department was unable to be reached by TODAY for a statement regarding the death.

In a statement to NBC News, Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said, “Yes, we are conducting a death investigation at this time,” adding, “It is not a criminal investigation as no foul play is suspected.”

Bernett was from McDonald, Pennsylvania, and majored in biology, according to her bio on the JMU website.

On Monday, the school announced that Bernett was named CAA player of the week after hitting .788 with seven RBIs and scoring four runs during a series over the weekend.

Lauren Bernett
Lauren Bernett during the UCF Knights Classic softball tournament in Orlando last February.Terrance Coakley / AP

“We are grateful that Lauren has been part of our JMU Athletics community and will always consider her to be a Duke,” Tuesday's letter stated.

A doubleheader against Longwood University that had been scheduled for Wednesday has been canceled.