Tragic news ... James Madison University softball star Lauren Bernett -- who was just named Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week on Monday -- has died, the school announced.
She was just 20 years old.
In a statement announcing the sad news Tuesday morning, JMU officials did not reveal a cause of death ... but said the tragedy was "devastating."
"Our hearts are aching, hearing the news of the loss of one of our student-athletes," officials said ... "We are a tight family. We are grateful that Lauren has been part of our JMU Athletics community and will always consider her to be a Duke. We will miss her dearly."
🥎 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐞𝐞𝐤 🥎
Lauren Bernett has been named the conference Player of the Week after her impressive performance this weekend!
Bernett, a sophomore, was a star catcher for the Dukes ... and had just had arguably her best week ever on the diamond for JMU.
In a game against College of Charleston on April 16, she recorded three hits and seven RBIs -- a JMU record. Just days later, in a series against Drexel on April 23, she logged hits in seven of her nine at-bats.
On Monday, the CAA handed her its Player of the Week award for her performances.
Bernett -- who was batting .336 this season with nine home runs -- was also a key contributor to the James Madison squad that made a deep run in the 2021 Women's College World Series.