Lauren Bernett, a standout James Madison University softball player who helped the school to a historic run to the Women’s College World Series last year, died suddenly at the age of 20, officials said Tuesday.
The death of the sophomore catcher, who was third on the team in home runs and second in RBI, was announced by JMU president Jonathan Alger.
“Our hearts are aching, hearing the news of the loss of one of our student-athletes,” Alger said in a statement. “Lauren Bernett was a high-achieving member of our softball team and a great ambassador of JMU and our athletics program.”
As a freshman last year, the McDonald, Pennsylvania, native started 43 games as the Dukes went 41-4 and advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in school history.
The Dukes are 21-21 this year and last played on Sunday, beating Drexel, 11-4, in Philadelphia. Bernett had a banner game on Sunday, going 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles.
JMU was slated to play host to Longwood in a doubleheader on Wednesday, but both of those games have been cancelled.
The school’s statement did not state a cause of death, but it is not being treated as a crime, officials said.
“Yes, we are conducting a death investigation at this time,” Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said in a statement to NBC News. “It is not a criminal investigation as no foul play is suspected.”
A representative for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.