James Madison coaches remember softball star Lauren Bernett

The James Madison softball coach staff remembered the late Lauren Bernett as a person who “showed grace and kindness to everyone” in a statement released Friday, three days following the star catcher’s death.

Bernett, 20, died Tuesday on the school campus in Harrisonburg, Va. One day later, Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said her death was ruled a suicide by the medical examiner’s officer.

Head coach Loren LaPorte, assistants Jennifer Herzig and Libby Bowman and volunteer coach Wayne Pettry put their names on the statement remembering Bernett, a star catcher.

“Finding the words to describe what our team is going through right now feels nearly impossible,” the statement began. “However, we want others to know the impact Lauren had on each of our lives, and each member of not only our softball family, but the entire JMU community.

“Lauren had one of the most genuine, old and trusting souls. Her huge heart showed grace and kindness to everyone she ever met. She was mature beyond her years and always put others before herself, wanting everyone around her to be happy. Her smile and laugh were radiant — lighting up every room, bullpen or dugout she walked into and making everyone around her instantly smile.

“She had dreams of becoming a veterinarian, and was trusted by animals in the same way she was trusted by the people in her life. Many members of our team found comfort in knowing Lauren would always be there for them on a tough day. She was a staple of our program who we all loved so much.

“To say she will be missed is an overwhelming understatement. There will be a permanent void in our hearts and our hope is to live out her legacy and make her proud each and every day.”

Last season, Bernett helped the Dukes reach the Women’s College World Series for the first time. They made headlines there with a 4-3 win against No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in their opening game.

On Monday, Bernett was named the softball Player of the Week in the Colonial Athletic Conference after batting .778 (7-for-9) with seven RBIs and four runs scored during a three-game weekend sweep of Drexel.

On April 16, she tied a single-game JMU record with seven RBIs in a win against College of Charleston.

James Madison canceled Wednesday’s doubleheader against Longwood and a three-game weekend series versus Delaware.

The Dukes are currently scheduled to host Virginia on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

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