In a senior year filled with breakthroughs, James Bowker finally got the break he really wanted.

The Plainview baseball star signed a scholarship to continue his athletic career at Murray State College on Monday, in a ceremony attended by family, friends and coaches from both schools.

"It's important," Bowker said. "I wanted to go play ball somewhere, and now I can do it."

As a leader for the Indians, who will play in the Class 4A state tournament this week, Bowker emerged as a force on both the pitchers mound and at the plate for Plainview.

Bowker has been the ace for the Indians' staff, picking up an 11-1 record that includes 97 strikeouts and a miniscule 0.25 ERA in 56 2/3 innings of work, and has been one of the team's top performers at the plate with a .431 batting average, four homers and 42 RBIs.

"He's always had a huge role in our baseball program," coach Brent Hackney said. "I think his work ethic has helped him out this year, he's in great shape and has developed a little more maturity and confidence.

"I think all of that helps him out now."

Murray State associated head coach Lloyd Gage said the program was ecstatic to bring in "one of the best power arms in the area."

Gage said that Bowker should be an immediate contributor on the mound, with a chance to see more playing time at catcher.

"We like his athletic ability and he can obviously do a lot for our baseball team," Gage said. "He's built like a horse, hits the ball very well and works into our philosophy offensively.

"And when you put him on the mound, he's just dominant."

Bowker knows that this next step up will provide new challenges and a higher level of competition, but he doesn't expect much to change when it comes to how he approaches the game.

"I'm just going to take the same approach I do now," Bowker said. "Don't think about it, go out and play my game."

And with the entire Plainview team there to watch, Hackney is glad to see his younger players see what rewards can be reaped from working hard.

"It's a great example for kids that want to go on to the next level," Hackney said. "They see kids like this, who work hard and are dedicated, get there and realize they can get there too."

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